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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.

Nancy Borlase and Laurie Short

1991
Jenny Sages

oil on canvas (support: 179.7 cm x 150.0 cm)

Nancy Borlase AM (1914–2006), painter and writer, and Laurence Short AO OBE (1915–2009), trade union leader, were married in 1941. Arriving in Sydney from New Zealand in 1937, Borlase studied sculpture at East Sydney Technical College but soon turned to figurative painting and regularly exhibited with the Contemporary Art Society in the 1940s. After changing to abstraction, one of Borlase's vibrant paintings was acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1960. Borlase won the Portia Geach Memorial Prize in 2000 for her portrait of Vida and Marie Breckenridge. Short joined the Federated Ironworkers' Association in 1937 and the Labor Party five years later. In 1951, he became the National Secretary of the FIA, a position he was to hold for more than 30 years. A key figure in the fight against communist control of unions, Short is credited with keeping the Labor party together in New South Wales while it split in other states in the mid-1950s.

Made using Penny Sages' signature technique – combining colour pigment with encaustic wax – this portrait of Borlase and Short was bought from Sages by Margaret Olley to give to the National Portrait Gallery. However, predicting that Sages would give away any money received, Olley bought her two tickets to London to see a Pierre Bonnard exhibition instead.

Gift of the Margaret Olley Art Trust 1998
© Jenny Sages

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Jenny Sages (age 58 in 1991)

Nancy Borlase AM (age 77 in 1991)

Laurence Short AO OBE (age 76 in 1991)

Donated by

Margaret Olley Art Trust (1 portrait)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Kate Grenville

'Making Stories'

Portrait story

Australian writer Kate Grenville discusses her career and portrait by Jenny Sages.

Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000
Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000
Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000
Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000

Paths to portraiture

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

The life and art of Australian artist Jenny Sages is on display in the exhibition Paths to Portraiture.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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