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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.

Preparatory study for 'Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground'. Head studies

2001
eX de Medici

pencil on paper (frame: 119.7 cm x 127.5 cm depth 4.2 cm, sheet: 105.5 cm x 114.0 cm)

eX de Medici maintained her Canberra city tattooing business while working on the commissioned portrait of Midnight Oil for the National Portrait Gallery. In recognition of the band’s activism on environmental issues and land rights, de Medici used a scene of the Ranger uranium mine, situated in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, as a backdrop. The mountain in the background is Mount Brockman, a site of great cultural and spiritual significance for Kakadu’s traditional owners. For the individual portraits, de Medici worked from sketches based on photographs taken at gigs and at a studio session in Sydney. She did much of the drawing in the finished portrait using quills cut from the feathers of wedge-tailed eagles, and pigments obtained from the bark of mangrove trees of the Kakadu region. The band members’ necks are ‘embroidered’ with patterns from the wings of moths known to have existed in the area; while the title of the work quotes lyrics from Midnight Oil’s ‘Blue Sky Mine’ (1990), a song about environmental exploitation.

This drawing is one of ten preparatory studies for the Midnight Oil portrait that were acquired for the Gallery’s permanent collection. In 2002, the artist gifted to the Gallery the illustrated diary which documents the work’s creation.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2001
© eX de Medici

Artist and subject

eX de Medici (age 42 in 2001)

Midnight Oil

Peter Garrett (age 48 in 2001)

Rob Hirst (age 46 in 2001)

Jim Moginie

Martin Rotsey

Dwayne Hillman (age 43 in 2001)

Supported by

Basil P. Bressler (48 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.

Seduce and Destroy

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2001

Magda Keaney explores the symbolism in eX de Medici's portrait of Midnight Oil.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency