AGGY READ (1941-1998)

Film-maker, lecturer and croquet champion Aggy Read died in Brisbane on Sunday August 22 1998 after a short battle with cancer. He was best known as the former manager of the UBU Films group in Sydney from 1965-1970. After meeting Albie Thoms at Sydney University, they formed UBU with David Perry, John Clark and associates including Phillip Noyce, Garry Shead, Gary Stiven, Paul Winkler and others. As one of the seminal figures in UBU  Aggy was (along with Thoms) the public face of the group, making numerous appearances on television on This Day Tonight, The Don Lane Show and many others, on radio and in the many newspaper articles written about the group.

Aggy was charged with smuggling after sending a copy of David Perry's film A Portait of Abigayl's Belly to the Oberhausen Festival in West Germany; the trial caused considerable outrage in Australia, and led later to the repeal of the archaic censorship laws that governed the importation and classification of motion pictures by Senator Don Chipp in 1970. Later, UBU evolved into the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op and Aggy Read was one of the foundation members (as Secretary) at the same time he was working with Thoms, Brett Whitely, and Martin Sharp at the now famous artist commune the Yellow House in Potts Point.

In 1973 Read moved to Adelaide to lecture at Flinders University. He was one of the founding members of the Experimental Art Foundation (with Brook, Fleugelman, Frith and Llewelyn) and the Media Resource Centre, working there as the Finance Officer until 1978. In 1985 Read moved to Brisbane lecturing part-time at Griffith University and working at the Heart Foundation. Along with his many advocacy roles for independent film in Australia, and his many contributions to the films of Albie Thoms, Mike Parr and Ben Elfick, Read was a keen hot air ballloonist and croquet player, winning the Australian Men’s title in 1997.

Of his many films, Aggy is perhaps best remembered for his outrageous classic Boobs A Lot which caused a near riot at the 1968 Sydney Film Festival when it was first screened by new Director of the Festival David Stratton. A true Australian libertarian and larrikin, Aggy Read remained committed to fostering the development of creative film in Australia, he will be remembered by many in this country for his infectious enthusiasm and tireless wit.

Aggy Read is survived by his wife, writer and actress Judith Arthy, a stepson Luke, and his mother and brother in Sydney.

Original obituary by Peter Mudie
University of Western Australia (sourced from Frameworks Archive May-August 1998)

The Sydney Morning Herald published an obituary of Aggy on 31 Aug 1998 (p45)