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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.

Sharing the dream?

‘I belong to you altogether – and to you only, and for good and all. That is the truth.’ Yeah, right.

1 Self portrait, c. 1934. 2 Ford Madox Ford playing solitaire, 1927. Both Stella Bowen.

Artist Stella Bowen left her hometown of Adelaide (‘a queer little backwater of intellectual timidity’) in 1914 for an independent life in London. There, through her circle of poet-intellectual friends, she met writer Ford Madox Ford. It was 1917. He was twenty years older, married, estranged from his wife and living with another woman. Hardly auspicious signs, but Bowen found him ‘the most enthralling person’ and they became lovers. Their daughter was born in 1920, after which Bowen’s art practice was accorded second place. Seemingly, Ford’s dream of a shared life was more his dream of having a woman to keep house and leave him free to write. They separated in 1928 and she then had to earn an income from her painting, working in France, the USA and England before becoming an official war artist in 1944, only the second woman appointed to the role. She died in England in 1947.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

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