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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.

Presence and Absence

Portrait Sculpture in Australia

Previous exhibition
from Friday 22 August until Sunday 16 November 2003

This exhibition focuses on exploring national and communal identity through sculptural production in Australia, from the early decades of settlement through to the present day. The scope of the exhibition is wide and reflects two aims.

Decorative portrait – Len Lye, c.1925 by Rayner Hoff (1894-1937)
Decorative portrait – Len Lye, c.1925 by Rayner Hoff (1894-1937)

Firstly to particularise certain specific moments in Australian history, including the shaping of Aboriginal-white contact in the 19th century and the construction of national identity through the mythologies of the bushman and the ANZAC. And secondly to focus on sculpture’s historical association with the service of death, especially through its emphasis on the function of commemoration.

12 portraits

1 Conamdatta, a North(ern) Queensland Aboriginal man, 1897 , by James White (1862-1918). 2 Portrait bust of Mrs Gerald Marr Thompson, 1892 by Emile Leysalle (1847- after 1902).

Related information

Australia and the Nobel Prize

Previous exhibition, 2003

This unique exhibition will give an insight into the private lives, pursuits and work of all the Nobel laureates associated with Australia

Australians in Hollywood

Previous exhibition, 2003

Although perceived to be a recent phenomenon, the 'Aussie invasion' of Hollywood can actually be traced as far back as the early 1900s

Checkered Past, 2003 by Alex Epoff
Checkered Past, 2003 by Alex Epoff
Checkered Past, 2003 by Alex Epoff
Checkered Past, 2003 by Alex Epoff

Headspace 4

Facing Memory

Previous exhibition, 2003

Facing Memory: Headspace 4 provides us with valuable insights into the thoughts, creative processes and art-making practices of secondary students from Year 7 to Year 12 from sixty-two schools in the Australian Capital Territory, regional New South Wales and Victoria

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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 National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency