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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.

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe

Shirley Purdie

Daily from Saturday 6 June 2020 until Saturday 8 August 2020
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020

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"It’s good to learn from old people. They keep saying when you paint you can remember that Country, just like to take a photo, but there’s the Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) and everything. Good to put it in painting, your Country, so kids can know and understand. When the old people die, young people can read the stories from the paintings. They can learn from the paintings and maybe they want to start painting too."

© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020
Video: 5 minutes 47 seconds

In Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe (From my women), Shirley Purdie pays homage to the women in her family, representing herself through collective knowledge, culture and values. Acquired by the Portrait Gallery in September 2019, this non-representational self portrait is informed by Aboriginal ways of seeing and understanding the world. Each panel contains a story, producing a portrait that is a complex kaleidoscope of personal history, identity and connection to country.

Purdie has lived on Gija Country in Western Australia’s East Kimberley all her life. Her cultural knowledge and artistic skill complement each other to produce a practice that holds great strength. She is a prominent leader in Warmun Community and an incisive cross-cultural communicator. Inspired by more senior Warmun artists, including her late mother, the great Madigan Thomas, as well as Rover Thomas and Queenie McKenzie, Purdie began to paint her Country in the early 1990s. Shirley’s uncle, artist Jack Britten, said to her, ‘Why don’t you try yourself for painting, you might be all right’. Working at the Warmun Art Centre, established in 1998, Purdie is dedicated to perpetuating Gija stories and language for young people.

Related people

Shirley Purdie

Related information

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie

Storied portrait

About Face article

27 May 2020

Emily Casey takes in Shirley Purdie’s remarkable self-portrait, Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe.

Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva
Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva
Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva
Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva

Darling Portrait Prize

Current exhibition

from Friday 6 March

The Darling Prize is a new annual prize for Australian portrait painters, painting Australian sitters. The winner receives a cash prize of $75,000.

The mahi-mahi, 2019 Rob Palmer
The mahi-mahi, 2019 Rob Palmer
The mahi-mahi, 2019 Rob Palmer
The mahi-mahi, 2019 Rob Palmer

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2020

Current exhibition

from Friday 6 March

The exhibition is selected from a national field of entries, reflecting the distinctive vision of Australia's aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

The National Portrait Prizes

Current exhibition

from Friday 6 March

Experience the very best new portrait paintings and photographs from across Australia.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
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 both past and present.

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