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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.

Cathy Freeman

1999
Kerrie Lester

oil and hand-stitching on canvas (frame: 199.0 cm x 169.0 cm, support: 181.5 cm x 151.0 cm)

Cathy Freeman OAM (b. 1973) won the 400m Olympic Gold medal in front of her home crowd in Sydney in 2000, famously carrying both the Australian and Aboriginal flags on her victory lap. Born in Mackay, Queensland, her mother is of the Kuku Yalanji people and her father was of the Burri Gubba people. Aged sixteen, Freeman was selected for the Australian women's 4 x 100m relay team that took out the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland. She won two more gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Canada in 1994 with victories in the 200m and 400m. The first Aboriginal track and field athlete to represent Australia at the Olympic Games, she won a silver medal in the 400m in Atlanta in 1996. She was ranked first in the world in her signature event, the 400m, in which she won back-to-back world championships in 1997 and 1999. After her retirement in 2003, she established the Cathy Freeman Foundation, which continues to enhance educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote communities.

Known for her playful, textured, highly coloured works, Kerrie Lester's style is well suited to the unpretentious personality of her powerful sitter. Lester worked on the portrait during breaks in Freeman's training schedule, prior to the Sydney Olympics.

Commissioned with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 1999
© Kerrie Lester/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

Kerrie Lester (age 46 in 1999)

Cathy Freeman OAM (age 26 in 1999)

Supported by

The Gordon Darling Foundation (36 portraits supported)

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.

L. Gordon Darling AC CMG
L. Gordon Darling AC CMG
L. Gordon Darling AC CMG
L. Gordon Darling AC CMG

Portrait of a patron

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

A new painting by Jiawei Shen captures the vision and resolve of the Gallery's founder, L. Gordon Darling AC CMG.

Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas
Andy Thomas

Uncommon Australians

The vision of Gordon and Marilyn Darling

Previous exhibition, 2015

This exhibition showcases portraits acquired through the generosity of the National Portrait Gallery’s Founding Patrons, L Gordon Darling AC CMG and Marilyn Darling AC.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency