Skip to main content

We’re thrilled to welcome you back to the Gallery! Please see what we need you to do first.

Menu

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.

Edie Watkins, 2016

by Nicholas Harding

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

Edie Watkins (b. 1933) is Harding’s mother-in-law. Born Edith Lee in Ulmarra, New South Wales, she spent her early childhood on a dairy farm near Grafton. Her father Clarence Lee, a veteran of the Somme and a man of several professions, surveyed the land for the village of Wooli. When she was twenty Edie married Keith Watkins, a fellow student at teachers’ college. He became principal of North Rocks School for blind and deaf children; he and Edie worked there for 25 years. Clarence Lee had built an ironbark house in Wooli in the 1920s and Keith and Edie used it on holidays, though it required constant maintenance and its facilities were minimal. From the time Harding met Lynne Watkins in the mid-1970s, he spent a lot of time there. Keith and Edie retired to a new house on the block in the 1990s. Around it Edie tended many of the thousands of flowers Harding has painted over the past fifteen years: roses, orchids, kangaroo paws, banksia, frangipani, paper daisies and lilies.

Paradoxically, tiny octogenarian Edie was the catalyst for a third sheet of paper in Harding’s large watercolour portraits. He’d painted her on two sheets, but her figure terminated at the ankles, which is undesirable in a portrait. Once he added another sheet, though, all he had to put on it were Edie’s fleece-lined scuffs. For compositional reasons, he placed some cut roses on the floor beside her and painted them. He found he liked the scale and proportions of the piece, and the way Edie’s roses spoke in a low-key way about her personality and interests.

Related information

David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding

Through thick and thin

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2017

Sarah Engledow likes the manifold mediums of Nicholas Harding’s portraiture.

Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding
Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding
Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding
Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding

Nicholas Harding

28 Portraits

Previous exhibition, 2017

Nicholas Harding: 28 portraits features paintings of Robert Drewe, John Bell and Hugo Weaving alongside gorgeously coloured recent oil portraits, delicate gouaches and bold ink and charcoal drawings.

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

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

Plan your visit

Timed ticketing, location, accessibility and amenities

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.