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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 Long Awaited, 2008 by Patricia Piccinini
The Long Awaited, 2008 by Patricia Piccinini

‘“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.’

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943

Patricia Piccinini places empathy at the heart of her practice. In The Long Awaited, the boy is not only comforting the creature but drawing comfort: as the artist observes -‘he’s nurturing her as much as she’s being nurtured.’ The tenderness of the moment dominates. It is a work that attests to philosopher Arne Naess’ observation: ‘We cannot help but identify ourselves with all living beings, beautiful or ugly, big or small, sentient or not.’

In her video work, The Gathering, Piccinini reflects on how accustomed we are ‘to seeing everything from our perspective.’ Are the creatures threatening or curious? And why does one reveal its pouch of children? The sense of unease never dissipates emphasising our lack of understanding and the possibility that the girl is asleep in their world.

Related information

Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks

In the flesh

Previous exhibition, 2014

In the flesh is an enthralling and immersive experience of contemporary art that confronts the concept of humanness and the experiences of consciousness and emotion. Featuring ten Australian artists including Jan Nelson, Patricia Piccinini, Ron Mueck and Michael Peck, the exhibition explores themes of intimacy, empathy, transience, transition, vulnerability, alienation, restlessness, reflection, mortality and acceptance.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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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.