Painter, draughtsman, printmaker and writer, Sydney-born Donald Moses reverted to his mother's maiden name, Friend, as a result of a family quarrel in 1920. He attended schools in Bowral and Sydney, and then studied in London and Paris. After two years in Nigeria, he returned to Australia in 1940, and joined the A.I.F., later being commissioned as a war artist in New Guinea. He won the Blake Prize in 1955, and then travelled and lived in Asia for long periods, writing, painting and drawing. Friend continued to send works for exhibition in Australia, where he returned to live in the early 1980s.
Friend's works are comments on places and people, depending on pictorial instinct rather than emotional content. Russell Drysdale (q. v.), so opposite in outlook, was Friend's close associate over many years. Both painters were influential in changing the way Australians saw their own country.
During his army service, which he loathed, Friend wrote diaries, later to be published as Gunner's Diary and Painter's Journal. These consisted of sketches and writings of the life around him, imbued with his inimitable parody and satirical wit. Where he might have dealt with serious or tragic themes of war, Friend instead withdrew from the reality of the moral issues, and resorted to wit and satire. His facetious manner is an essential part of many of his works, which all demonstrate his talent as a draughtsman and colourist.
THE TENT, 1942, is one of the paintings done during his war service period, and is taken from a sketch in his 1942 diary. Showing his skill as both a figurative and a narrative painter, Friend here deploys a touch of his frequent satire. Using expressive colours, the artist depicts the inevitable fatigue duties being carried out with great haste by the dwarf-like figures of the lower ranks, who battled not only their distasteful tasks but also the elements of bleak, cold weather.