SALVATORE ZOFREA – Master of Light


A Film by Richard Mordaunt

Produced by Richard Mordaunt, Kim Mordaunt and Diana Barbara.

Executive Producer Franco Di Chiera

Co-Producer Milos Ludajic


This film tells the LIFE STORY of SALVATORE ZOFREA, one of Australia’s great painters.

‘Salvatore draws feeling and that’s the rarest gifts of all, he draws like an angel’.

This is an intimate portrait of a remarkable Australian artist whose journey has taken him from war torn Italy as a child, to his search for a new life in Australia. Adolescence, loss, and discovery are all part of this coming of age in a new land where Salvatore discovers his great skills as an artist.

‘Salvatore Zofrea- A Master of light’ unfolds as a narrative shared between the artist and the film-maker, a life story shared straight into camera, recording Salvatore’s life and art since he arrived in Australia from Southern Italy at the age of nine.

From his studios in Sydney and the Blue Mountains to his birthplace in Southern Italy, we follow Salvatore’s story as he creates ‘Morning Light’, a monumental artwork, 100 foot long reminiscent 0f Monet’s panoramas that he did at the end of his life. ‘Morning Light’ is one of Australia’s most epic artworks.

Inspired by Da Vinci, Zofrea is a 3 times winner of the prestigious Sulman Art Prize and has been a finalist in the Archibald and Wynne many times. His work is featured in some of the worlds most important collections and he has been awarded the Medal of Order of Australia and an Italian knighthood for his services to art in Australia.

As with all great artists, Salvatore has created a remarkable self portrait of his life, drawing and painting all the significant stages of his life. His three major life projects have been his ‘Psalms of Life’ series of 150 paintings which he began after recovering in hospital from a fatal illness which nearly killed him. Secondly, his ‘Appassionata’ series of 100 woodblocks describing his early life in Italy and arriving in Australia.

Thirdly, his most recent discovery in which he experiences an ‘epiphany of the Australian light and a new way of seeing’. ‘As a migrant it took me a long time for the seed to open inside me’. It took fifty years and finally led to larger and larger works, most recently ‘Morning Light’ his 100 foot long panorama of the Australian bush, capturing the native flora and the Morning Light in minute detail.

Two years in the making, this spectacular panorama is of such beauty and epic scale it defies expectations about contemporary art. For Salvatore, it became a race against time to complete this defining and wondrous work which was finally hung in the Australian Galleries in Sydney before being sold to a Collector in the United States for an undisclosed figure.

We have filmed throughout the making of ‘Morning Light’ and interviewed the key people who have been part of Salvatore’s life. We have also filmed in Borgia in Southern Italy, Salvatore’s birthplace where he lived for the first nine years of his life and we discover how this period influenced his development as an artist. This has enabled us to weave Salvatore’s life story throughout the making of a modern masterpiece.


Edmund Capon – Former director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales 1978-2011
Andrew Sayers – Founder of the National Portrait Gallery Canberra
Stephanie Claire – Author, lecturer and Salvatore’s partner for 34 years
Stuart Purves – Director of the Australian Galleries, Sydney and Melbourne
Mary Turner – Director of the Macquarie Galleries Sydney
Lucio Galetto – Restaurant owner and art collector

SAL 1 still



Director – Richard Mordaunt

Producers – Richard Mordaunt, Kim Mordaunt, Diana Barbara

Richard Mordaunt is one of Australia’s most experienced documentary film-makers with 40 years experience producing feature documentaries in Australia and the UK. Throughout the 60s and 70s, using the first lightweight cameras, he photographed and directed award winning documentaries in the UK. House of the Rising Sun, Voices, Sweet Soul Music, Ireland Behind the Wire, Seeds of a New Life.

In 1979 he moved to Australia with his partner Diana Barbara and they continued to make documentaries for the Australian and International market. In 1980 he co-produced the much acclaimed Stepping Out with Chris Noonan. This has been followed by films for the ABC and SBS, as well as the following artist’s stories. Brushes with fame –The story behind the Archibald Prize. Setting the Stage –The artists who created major artworks for Australia’s Olympic site . Wendy Sharpe paints the life of Australian swimming legend Annette Kellerman Janet Laurence- The Life World.

Kim Mordaunt has directed films for both ABC and SBS. These include. ‘Bomb Harvest’ (documentary) which won Best Director at the Australian Directors Guild in 2008 and Best documentary at the IF awards.

2013.  Kim was writer/ director of the feature film ‘The Rocket’, Produced by Sylvia Wilczynski. The Rocket won won 54 awards, and was Australia’s entry into the 2014 Academy Awards. It has been sold to 30 countries with cinema releases in US, Canada and the UK.