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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The powerful, subversive female gaze

Sophia Hewson aims to speak about the body in a manner ‘alternative to patriarchal ideology’. Her self-portrait, a performative pash with singer-songwriter Missy Higgins, depicts a star and her fan.

Award-winning musician Missy Higgins agreed to help artist Sophia Hewson challenge the orthodox structures of portraiture, making her the ideal collaborator for this work. Hewson and Higgins are not in a relationship: ‘She’s engaged and I’m straight’, confirmed Hewson. Rather, the painting challenges the objectification of the female body in art, subverting a medium historically dominated by the male gaze – the portrayal of women through the eyes of men – emphasising the power of the female gaze in its stead. (Hewson refers to ‘post-feminist self-objectification’ in characterising the work.) The artist and Higgins are in complete control of their representation, offering the viewer a statement that is, overtly, wholly from the female perspective.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.