The Three Well Known Australians exhibit is on at Windsor Library

Three Well Known Australians have come to Windsor in the form of artist Martin Shaw's interactive art exhibition at Windsor Library from now until July 24.

The exhibition has three components, which are the original Three Well Known Australians painting, a Sydney yearbook from the past three visits, along with a third for this year's guesses, as well as letters from various public figures who have guessed who the three Australians are over the years.

Three well known Australians: Artist Martin Shaw sat next to his original portrait, holding some of the yearbooks that are included in his touring exhibition. Picture: James Brickwood

Three well known Australians: Artist Martin Shaw sat next to his original portrait, holding some of the yearbooks that are included in his touring exhibition. Picture: James Brickwood

The painting has been touring Australia since 1983, originally as a part of a larger exhibition of Shaw's work, but it did take on it's own exhibition.

Ever since it has toured Australia, returning to area every decade allowing new generations and perceptions be made about the painting no matter where it goes.

When Shaw originally conceived the idea he was working as a market researcher, where he realised the different background and perceptions people had.

And despite having an idea of who the three Australians are he had no intention to reveal their identities.

"I'm like a magician," said Shaw. "If you know how the trick works, you don't find it interesting. I can't tell anyone who the three Australians are.

"Different generations come along to make their guess at who it is. Sometimes they say names that are timeless, but often they will say names that don't stick around to the next generation.

"[The yearbooks] allow people to return to something they may have written about the painting a decade ago, or longer. And now they may see something completely different as they have different perceptions.

"The guess of the blue figure being Ned Kelly is the most popular one I hear, but you get all types of guesses, including rather abstract ones."

The letters that Shaw receives vary between basic and unique, but he always finds them quite interesting.

"At Windsor, there is a letter from Tony Abbott which was quite amusing ... others are more abstract like, John Williamson's guesses."

The exhibition itself is unique and has endless possibilities as there is no definitive answer, which is why it has been so popular for 36 years.

"It's very similar to the torch relay in the Olympic Games, but instead it's more like a painting relay," joked Shaw.

"Instead of lining the streets and clapping and cheering, you guess who these three Australians are.

"The Three well known Australians live on in the yearbooks.

"The People become apart of the portrait."

The Three Well Known Australians art exhibition is on for free at Windsor Library until Saturday, July 27.

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