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Anna Volska and Georgia, 2015 by Nicholas Harding

gouache on three paper panels
Collection of Nicholas Harding and Lynne Watkins

Anna Volska (b. 1944), actor, came from Poland to Australia with her mother when she was seven, and graduated from NIDA before she turned twenty. During a two-year stint with the Old Tote Theatre Company, while acting in The Cherry Orchard, she became attached to fellow cast member John Bell; they were married in 1965. Following his career, she spent three seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon. They co-founded the Nimrod Theatre, for which they played Hamlet and Ophelia, and she directed several productions there. The couple set up the Bell Shakespeare Company in 1990; she acted in many of its productions, including Macbeth opposite Bell, and she directed its Merchant of Venice in 2006. Since the 1970s she has appeared in many Australian television productions. She was a regular in A Country Practice from 1987 to 1991, and in 2009 she had a recurring role in the final season of All Saints. Volska’s daughter Hilary is a playwright, and her daughter Lucy is an actor.

This dignified portrait of the grandmother-of-five was the first of a series Harding completed for exhibition in The Popular Pet Show at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016-1017. While Harding rarely leaves a portion of canvas unpainted, his works on paper rely on the interplay between painted and bare areas. Georgia, for example, is mostly white paper, with paint only on her nose, ears and centre-parted hair.

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
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