Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

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.

Kay Cottee

1993
Pamela Thalben-Ball

oil on canvas (frame: 126.0 cm x 141.0 cm, support: 107.0 cm x 122.5 cm)

Kay Cottee AO (b. 1954) became the first woman in history to complete a solo, non-stop and unassisted voyage around the world. On 29 November 1987, Cottee set off from Sydney Harbour in her boat Blackmores First Lady. During the 189 days of the 23,000 nautical mile voyage, she faced icebergs, gale force winds and whales as well as homesickness and loneliness. Washed overboard off the southern coast of Africa, she was saved by two safety lines. Her only contact with the outside world was by radio, and while the demands of the journey often left her with little time to sleep, she staved off boredom by knitting and writing poetry. In the course of the voyage she broke seven records including the longest time spent alone by a woman at sea, the greatest non-stop distance travelled at sea by a lone woman, and the fastest time and speed for a solo circumnavigation by a woman. Sailing back into Sydney on 5 June 1988, she was greeted by a crowd of 100,000 people. The voyage raised more than $1 million for Reverend Ted Noffs' Life Education Centres.

In this portrait, artist Pamela Thalben-Ball captured Cottee's famous resilience and positive character, which allowed her to complete her treacherous solo journey.

Gift of the artist 1999

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

Pamela Thalben-Ball (age 66 in 1993)

Kay Cottee AO (age 39 in 1993)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Donated by

Pamela Thalben-Ball (2 portraits)

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.

Elle Macpherson
Elle Macpherson
Elle Macpherson
Elle Macpherson

Australian Visit

Previous exhibition, 2006

The exhibition will include works of art from the NPG Canberra's permanent collection with some inward loans and aims to highlight the achievements of notable Australians.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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 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