Mordant’s interest in arts has always been about surrounding himself with creative people and, with wife Catriona, trying to make a difference in their “short time on the planet”.

“We’ve only ever bought things that we love,” he said. “We’ve not sold a single work. It’s never been about financial gain, it’s about being around things that hit us in the heart and are resonant in our times.”

Philanthropist Greta Moran, who with her late husband Doug founded the Moran Health Care Group, has also been awarded an AO.

Philanthropist Greta Moran, who with her late husband Doug founded the Moran Health Care Group, has also been awarded an AO.Credit:Nick Moir

Mordant is one of several philanthropists to have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Naomi Milgrom received the highest honour, Companion in the General Division (AC), for her support of the arts, architecture, design excellence and cultural exchange, and to business. Milgrom, head of Australia’s largest fashion retailer, ARJ Group Holdings, commissioned MPavilion in Melbourne and chaired the international jury for the Powerhouse Parramatta.

Fellow philanthropist Greta Moran, who with her late husband Doug founded the Moran Health Care Group, has been awarded an AO for distinguished service to the visual arts through philanthropic initiatives, as an advocate for Australian art and artists, and to the aged-care sector.

Moran established the Moran Arts Foundation, through which Paddington’s Juniper Hall has been turned into galleries, and Australia’s richest portrait and photography prizes funded. Most important to the Moran family matriarch is the free photographic workshops provided for mainly disadvantaged schoolchildren.

Gretel Packer has been recognised for significant service to the community, to the visual and performing arts, and to conservation.

Gretel Packer has been recognised for significant service to the community, to the visual and performing arts, and to conservation.Credit:Sam Mooy/The Australian Financial Review

Moran, 88, had shown talent as an artist while in the opportunity class at Summer Hill Primary in grade 5, her mother sure teachers had helped with the art she brought home and later insisting her daughter study medicine. Later, Archibald prize-winning artist Harry Hanke invited Moran to paint commissioned portraits he was unable to start.

“It was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me,” she recalls. She came home with the news on the Friday of the Queen’s Birthday 1978 but husband Doug needed her to help him run the company’s first private hospital at Baulkham Hills. She started the following Tuesday.

“I had a lot of sympathy for artists who couldn’t stay painting,” she said of the decision to launch the foundation in the year of Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations. “I thought, ‘What can I do about it?’ We don’t want everyone to think like lawyers and accountants. Artists are essential to our social balance.”

Gretel Packer, chair of the advisory board of Crown Resorts Foundation and the Packer Family Foundation, has also been awarded a Member in the General Division (AM) for significant service to the community, to the visual and performing arts, and to conservation.

Mordent, upon migrating to Australia, joined the campaign to establish the Museum of Contemporary Art and later became its chair, donating $15 million to the MCA’s new wing that bears his family name.

Mordant wakes at 4am every day to take calls as a board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, director of MoMA PS1 in New York, trustee of the American Academy in Rome and a member of the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Other leading arts and entertainment figures to be recognised include music producer Mark Opitz (AM), actor Robyn Nevin (AO), Oscar-nominated screenwriter Jan Sardi (AO), artist Vincent Namatjira (OAM), executive director of The Australian Ballet and chair of Orchestra Victoria, Libby Christie (AM), choreographer Lucy Guerin (AO), abstract artist Yvonne Audette (AM), poet Herbert

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Wharton (AM), former Australian Museum director Frank Howarth (AM), actor and singer Tottie Goldsmith (OAM), curator Professor Natalie King (OAM) and festival director Marcus Westbury (OAM).

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