Ears to Chopper's art - a killer of an exhibition 1st - 5th April 2021
He was no Van Gough, Da Vinci or Ken Done but Chopper Read's art can certainly tell some
The late gangland killer turned author, with the trademark hacked ears, has left a legacy through
his paintings which will be on display at Morpeth Gallery over the Easter long weekend in April.
Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read was a convicted Australian criminal, gang member and author.
He died in 2013 aged 59 after suffering liver cancer believed to be the result of contracting
Hepatitis C in prison.
Read wrote a series of semi-autobiographical fictional crime novels and children's books and
the 2000 film Chopper starring Eric Bana, is based on his life.
While serving his time in gaol for a myriad of crimes, Read painted as part of his rehabilitation.
On his release from gaol he travelled Australia with his own stage show which comprised a
series of talks about his notorious career.
Fearing reprisal, he travelled with his own security team for protection.
At each show he would exhibit and sell his paintings and on the back of each work he would
write a short message about what or who inspired that particular piece of art.
A total of 41 paintings and a coffin turned into a coffee table will be on display and also for sale
at the Morpeth exhibition giving visitors the chance to own a piece of Australia's somewhat
quirkier criminal history.
Read often claimed his early life was tough.
His father was a former army and World War II veteran who was of Irish descent and his
mother, a devout Seventh Day Adventist.
He was placed in a children's home for the first give years of his life.
He was bullied at school, claiming that by the age of 15 he had been on the losing end of many
fights and that his father, usually on his mother's recommendation, beat him often as a child.
He grew up in the Mebourne suburbs of Collingwood and Fitzroy.
Read later became an accomplished street fighter and the leader of the Surrey Road gang, a
hardened street gang with a notoriuos reputation for violence.
He started his criminal career robbing drug dealers, based in the Prahran area.
He graduated to kidnapping and torturing members of the criminal underworld, often using a
blowtorch or bolt cutters to remove the toes of his victims.
Read had been convicted of a wide range of crimes from armed robbery to arson, kidnapping to
impersonating a police officer.
During a stint "inside" in the 1970's, Read had a fellow inmate cut off the tops of his ears in
order to get out of Pentridge Prison's H division.
It was incidents like this that set the foundations for some of his works - each piece telling a
story of his troubled, colourful and at times sad and traumatic life.
Memorabilia, books and merchandise will also be for sale during the Morpeth Gallery exhibition.
The Mark Chopper Read Exhibition at Morpeth Gallery will run from Thursday, April 1 to
Monday, April 5 and Thursday, April 8 to Sunday, April 11.
Morpeth Gallery will be closed on Good Friday on April 2.
For more information contact Trevor Richards on 49331407.