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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.

Vali Myers, 2001

Eva Collins

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 30.4 cm x 40.5 cm, image: 26.8 cm x 40.0 cm)

Vali Myers (1930-2003), 'outsider' artist, was born near Box Hill and moved to Melbourne at the age of eleven. Leaving home at 14, she became a dancer. At 19 she went to Paris, where she lived on the streets, danced in cafés, and met Sartre, Cocteau, Genet and Django Reinhardt. George Plimpton wrote an article about her for his journal, Paris Review, and Ed van der Elsken photographed her for the book Love on the Left Bank. In 1952 she left France to settle near Positano, where she established an animal sanctuary and spent much time in a cage with a vixen. She funded the sanctuary through selling her art - in which dogs recur with female figures - in New York. Living at the Chelsea Hotel, she tattooed Patti Smith's knee and met Dalí, Warhol and Tennessee Williams, who is said to have based the character Carol Cutrere on her. She returned to Melbourne in 1993 and set up a studio, which was opened to the public after her death. Nonetheless, in the last years of her life she often went back to her menagerie in Italy. Myers has been the subject of several films, including Tightrope Dancer (1990) and Painted Lady (2003).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2003
© Eva Collins

Accession number: 2003.218

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Eva Collins

Vali Myers (age 71 in 2001)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Eva Collins (2 portraits)

Related portraits

1. Margaret Lyttle, 2000. All Eva Collins.

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.

Interview with Dimmi video: 2 minutes
Interview with Dimmi video: 2 minutes
Interview with Dimmi video: 2 minutes
Interview with Dimmi video: 2 minutes

Vali Myers

'A friend in a lift'

Portrait story

Interview with Vali Myers' friend, Dimmi, the lift-attendant at the Nicholas Building in Melbourne.

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.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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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.