Nancy Borlase AM (1914–2006), painter and writer, was 23 when she came to Sydney from New Zealand, where she had studied art and written a book. She continued her art studies at the East Sydney Technical College, and with Rah Fizelle and Grace Crowley. She was a member of the Contemporary Art Society from 1952 to 1970; in 1960 her first solo exhibition was held at Sydney’s Macquarie Galleries. Between 1973 and 1981 she was art critic for the Bulletin and the Sydney Morning Herald. Her husband from 1941, Laurence Short AO OBE (1915–2009), joined the Ironworkers’ Union in 1937 and the Labor Party five years later. In 1951, he became the National Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers’ Association, a position he was to hold for more than 30 years. An opponent of communism, Short is credited with keeping the Labor party together in New South Wales while it split in other states in the mid-1950s. He was the national chairman of the Metal Trades Federation from 1975 to 1982 and vice-chairman of the ABC from 1977 to 1983; he also served on the NSW Parole Board, and the boards of the Australian Opera and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Margaret Olley bought this painting from Jenny Sages to give to the National Portrait Gallery. However, darkly predicting that Sages would give away any monies received, she bought her two tickets to London to see a Pierre Bonnard exhibition instead.
Gift of the Margaret Olley Art Trust 1998
Accession number: 1998.3
More about the artist and subject
Magazine article, Portrait 47
Australian artist and Archibald Prize winner, Jenny Sages reflects on her work.
Paths to Portraiture
The exhibition Sages examines the process of portrait making through four large-scale portraits of women by Jenny Sages, paired with intimate preparatory drawings.
Magazine article, Portrait 37
Paths to portraiture
The life and art of Australian artist Jenny Sages is on display in the exhibition Paths to Portraiture.
Magazine article, Portrait 31
Handing on the baton
Michael Desmond explores the life of ballerina Irina Baranova through the portrait by Australian artist Jenny Sages.
Magazine article, Portrait 16
The story behind the creation of the portrait of Helen Garner by Jenny Sages.
Permanent collection catalogue
On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.