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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.

Bee Miles, 1976

Roderick Shaw

charcoal on paper (frame: 122.5 cm x 88.0 cm depth 3.5 cm, sheet: 68.0 cm x 102.0 cm)

Beatrice (Bee) Miles (1902-1973) ranks alongside the 'Eternity man' as one of Sydney's best-remembered street identities. Educated at a private girls' school and the University of Sydney, from the age of 38 she had no fixed address and was notable for her anarchic conduct in public places, although she did carry a board advertising her willingness to stand and recite Shakespeare for a fee. She loved tram and taxi travel, though she rarely paid, and often hurled herself at vehicles refusing to carry her. As a consequence, she was routinely assaulted by cab drivers. She lived by a number of well-documented maxims, and remained a wayward wit into her impoverished and infirm old age.

Roderick Shaw was a Sydney social-realist painter and printer of quality books. After the war he helped to end the censorship of four letter words in Australia, by publishing the banned report of the trial of Penguin books over D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. Shaw was a foundation member of Artists for Democracy and of Artists Against Nuclear War.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Brian Griffin 2000
© Estate of Rod Shaw

Accession number: 2000.12

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Roderick Shaw (age 61 in 1976)

Bee Miles

Subject professions

Public identity

Related 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.

Bee Miles portrait story video: 2 minutes
Bee Miles portrait story video: 2 minutes
Bee Miles portrait story video: 2 minutes
Bee Miles portrait story video: 2 minutes

Bee Miles

'Eccentricity'

Portrait story

An exploration of Bee Miles' defining characteristic.

Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw
Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw
Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw
Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw

Good, bad and the ugly

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2007

Michael Desmond explores what makes a portrait subject significant.

Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner

Portraits for Posterity

Previous exhibition, 2006

Drawn from some of the many donations made to the Gallery's collection, the exhibition Portraits for Posterity pays homage both to the remarkable (and varied) group of Australians who are portrayed in the portraits and the generosity of the many donors who have presented them to the Gallery.

We would like to thank our partners.
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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.