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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.

Announcing... Jonathan Jones Bogong Cluster: Physically distant, socially connected

5 January 2021

A new light installation by Jonathan Jones reflects on the importance of community through the lens of his Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi heritage, whilst also acting as a prompt for gallery visitors to maintain social distancing.

Bogong Cluster
Bogong Cluster. Physically distant, socially connected, 2020 Jonathan Jones. Projected light installation. Commissioned 2020. The artist acknowledges Ngambri Country and the support of Dr Matilda House

Jonathan Jones is a leading Australian artist, curator and researcher who works across a range of mediums to create site-specific installations and interventions that engage Aboriginal practices, relationships and knowledge. 

Bogong Cluster, Physically distant, socially connected is a new commission, specially created for the National Portrait Gallery, to remind visitors of the altered social landscape caused by the global pandemic.  Projected in high-traffic areas throughout the gallery, the works’ 1.5 metre diameter acts as a prompt for Gallery visitors to maintain social distancing.

Jones’ design draws on the incredible natural phenomena of the annual bogong moth (Agrotis unfusa) migration to Ngambri country, a significant time of celebration for Aboriginal people in the region. As Ngambri elder Dr Matilda House describes, “the arrival of the bogong moths in Ngambri Country indicated the start of a period of ceremonies for young men, for their initiation. Families from many different places travelled here to participate. We called it ‘Running to the feast’.”

Jones uses this important gathering as the starting point for the work: “The arrival of the bogongs signals an important time in the south-east Aboriginal calendar, when communities come together to share and celebrate.  For Aboriginal people, natural phenomena – including the bogong moth migration – continues to connect us and remind us of community.  In these uncertain times, with physical gatherings restricted, we can all still recall major events such as the bogong moth migration, and remain connected to each other through nature. 

“Standing within the cluster of bogong, nature activates our cultural memory and speaks of our deep cultural relationships with, and responsibilities to, the natural world,” Jonathan said. 

Director of the National Portrait Gallery Karen Quinlan AM, said Jonathan Jones work was an important reminder of the duality of life during the pandemic.  “We welcome Jonathan’s striking new work to the NPG at a time when we are all emerging from our own pandemic induced cocoons, and slowly venturing back out into the world.  It is a meaningful reminder of what we have missed during isolation, and the restorative and connecting power of the natural world.”

Also at the NPG this summer

Pub Rock
Until 14 March 2021

Celebrating the people, places and sounds of Australian pub rock and its enduring impact on the nation’s culture and identity, Pub Rock combines works from the NPG collection with images by leading Australian music photographers. A vibrant celebration of homegrown rock ‘n’ roll, punk and pop, Pub Rock features staged portraits and publicity shots alongside images captured during unguarded moments and the grungy energy of live performance, from The Easybeats, Little Pattie and Johnny O’Keefe to globally-successful performers such as AC/DC, INXS, Nick Cave, The Bee Gees and Kylie Minogue and a long list of local favourites.

This is my place
Until 28 February, 2021

This is my place focuses on the places that define who we are - our Countries, workspaces, spiritual homes and habitats.  Featuring over one hundred works from the National Portrait Gallery collection – spanning 250 years and incorporating painting, photography, drawing, printmaking and sculpture – This is my place explores the place of 'place' in portraiture as well as the intricate interconnections between landscape, identity and the feeling of home.

Portrait Allsorts
Until 31 March 2021

Featuring some of the most popular works from the NPG collection, Portrait Allsorts offers portraiture in all its flavours: painting, photography, drawing, textiles, printmaking and sculpture.  Much-loved favourites include portraits of Deborah Mailman by Evert Ploeg, Lee Lin Chin by George Fetting and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop as well as new acquisitions.  

Before hand: The private life of a portrait
Until 14 March 2021

A new exhibition revealing the backstories behind iconic works from the NPG collection and the creative and social process of making a portrait, Before hand features interviews with artists and sitters as well as rarely seen working drawings, scrapbooks, sketches and footage taken in artists’ studios and out on location. 

In their own words

A unique new gallery audio tour developed in collaboration with the National Library of Australia, In their own words has been drawn interviews with prominent Australians born between 1865 and 1953 recorded by Hazel de Berg over a period of 27 years.  Following a three-year collaboration between the NPG and the NLA, a series of over sixty short audio stories, taken directly from the subjects and artists themselves, has been developed into a ground-breaking new audio gallery trail.  

Holiday activities

Family Space

Open daily from 26 December to 31 January, Move It is a space for families to mimic, reflect and explore works on display. 

Portrait Play

Portrait Play packs with drawing activities and craft materials are offered to children and families upon entry, which can be used onsite in the galleries and taken home.  For all ages and abilities.

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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.

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