Ray Crooke was born in Melbourne in 1922. In 1941 he enlisted in the Army; this provided his first opportunity to experience the landscape and culture of the Cape York Peninsula and the islands of the Torres Strait. This experience was pivotal in the development of his creative vision. At the same time, Crooke met Donald Friend who introduced him to Russell Drysdale. Recognizing his talent, Drysdale encouraged the young artist with whom he would develop a lifelong friendship. Crooke has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally. His work is represented in all major state galleries. Ray and June live in Cairns, far north Queensland, where they have resided for many years.