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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.

So Fine

Contemporary women artists make Australian history

Previous exhibition from Friday 29 June 2018 until Monday 1 October 2018

As conceptually thrilling as it is aesthetically rich, So Fine features new works from ten women artists reinterpreting and reimagining elements of Australian history. Forming part of the Portrait Gallery’s twentieth birthday celebrations, the exhibition enriches the contemporary narrative around Australia’s history and biography, reflecting the tradition of storytelling in our country.

So Fine’s contributing artists – of various ages and backgrounds, and hailing from different parts of Australia – have all created new works for the exhibition. Aside from gender, their common attributes are a meticulous approach to creation, driven by considered, nuanced thinking. Their works are intricate, refined and affecting objects that reconceive events, people and places from Australia’s past.

The artists involved are Shirley Purdie, Linde Ivimey, Bern Emmerichs, Leah King-Smith, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Nicola Dickson, Pamela See (Xue Mei-Ling), Fiona McMonagle, Valerie Kirk and Carol McGregor. Charged with these makers’ passionate, intensely individual takes, and incorporating themes from pre-history to the present, So Fine challenges and delights, as well as interrogating the boundaries of contemporary portraiture.

1Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 by Linde Ivimey. 2Cross-Stitched (Centre panel), 2018 by Bern Emmerichs. 3black seeds, 2017 by Carol McGregor. 4Presenting Jean Piron, 1793 - Femme du Cap de Diemen, 2018 by Nicola Dickson. 5Goollabal (Rainbow Serpent), 2018 by Shirley Purdie. 6Ayrshire Slates, 2017 by Valerie Kirk. 7The Scheme (5 works on calico - Girl 2), 2018 by Fiona McMonagle. 8Refined Portraits of Desire (detail), 2018 by Nusra Latif Qureshi. 9Reading, 2018 by Leah King-Smith.

Related people

Dr Sarah Engledow (curator)

Christine Clark (curator)

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.

The Rajah quilt, 1841 by Kezia Hayter
The Rajah quilt, 1841 by Kezia Hayter
The Rajah quilt, 1841 by Kezia Hayter
The Rajah quilt, 1841 by Kezia Hayter

Material culture

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2018

The Rajah Quilt’s narrative promptings are as intriguing as the textile is intricate.

Self portrait, 1957 by Sunarto P. R.
Self portrait, 1957 by Sunarto P. R.
Self portrait, 1957 by Sunarto P. R.
Self portrait, 1957 by Sunarto P. R.

Masters of modern Indonesian portraiture

Previous exhibition, 2014

Masters of modern Indonesian portraiture presents key modernist paintings and drawings along with a selection of contemporary works.

Man of the year #4, 2011 by Agus Suwage
Man of the year #4, 2011 by Agus Suwage
Man of the year #4, 2011 by Agus Suwage
Man of the year #4, 2011 by Agus Suwage

Beyond the Self

Contemporary Portraiture from Asia

Previous exhibition, 2011

This exhibition examines the representation of the self in current South and Southeast Asian art practice through the work of artists from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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.