Last chance to see Chopper Read's art at Morpeth Gallery this weekend

DRINKS ARE ON CHOPPER: Peter Hall pictured with the $10,000 Chopper Read coffin that has been made as a coffee table. PICTURE: Marina Neil.
DRINKS ARE ON CHOPPER: Peter Hall pictured with the $10,000 Chopper Read coffin that has been made as a coffee table. PICTURE: Marina Neil.

From underworld figures to bush rangers and the French Resistance, Mark Chopper Read's art works covered an eclectic mix of characters as well as his warped spin on life.

This weekend will be the last chance to see first hand a collection of the late gangland killer's works - 41 of them owned by Hunter resident Peter Hall.

The collection, which also includes some tribute pieces (made by other artists) such as a coffin turned coffee table complete with bullet holes and meat cleavers, are on exhibition at Morpeth Gallery.

ROGUES GALLERY: Peter Hall pictured with some of Chopper Read's canvases. PICTURE: Marina Neil.

ROGUES GALLERY: Peter Hall pictured with some of Chopper Read's canvases. PICTURE: Marina Neil.

Mr Hall, Newcastle-based National Event Services Operations Manager, said he met Chopper when he was working security at a number of venues where Chopper was holding his stage shows.

"He could certainly tell a good story," Mr Hall said.

"He was a likeable rogue who captivated everyone and had the mantra, never let the truth get in the way of a good story," he said.

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.

Mr Hall said he purchased his collection piece by piece over a period of time and estimates its worth at $250,000.

At each show Chopper 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.

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.

Along with the art works, memorabilia, books and merchandise will also be for sale during the Morpeth Gallery exhibition which will close on Sunday at 5pm.

This story Ears to Chopper's underbelly art first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.