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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.

True Stories - Helen Garner, 2003

Jenny Sages

encaustic, oil and pigment on composition board (support: 122.2 cm x 200.2 cm)

Helen Garner (b. 1942), writer, was a secondary school teacher before the publication of her first novel, the semi –autobiographical Monkey Grip (1977). Winner of a National Book Council Award, it was made into an outstanding feature film released in 1982. Honour and Other People’s Children (1980), Postcards from Surfers (1985), The Children’s Bach (1984), Cosmo Cosmolino (1992) and The Feel of Steel (2001) followed. Garner’s fiction has strong moral themes, and since the 1990s she has pursued a variety of profound ethical questions in journal articles and non–fiction books. In 1995 The First Stone, exploring claims of sexual harassment at a Melbourne University college, caused a national sensation. Two years later True Stories, a collection of her non–fiction pieces, won the Nita B Kibble Award for women’s life writing. Her rumination on the murder of a Canberra student, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, was published in 2004. Since 2005 Garner has written occasional pieces for The Monthly, sometimes delightedly describing her life with her grandchildren. Her recent books include The Spare Room (2008), This House of Grief: The story of a murder trial (2014) and the collection Everywhere I Look (2016).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Jenny Sages

Accession number: 2004.183

Currently on display: Gallery Eight (Temporary Exhibition Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Jenny Sages (age 70 in 2003)

Helen Garner (age 61 in 2003)

Donated by

Jenny Sages (27 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.

Ms Anna Burke MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives 2015 by Jude Rae
Ms Anna Burke MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives 2015 by Jude Rae
Ms Anna Burke MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives 2015 by Jude Rae
Ms Anna Burke MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives 2015 by Jude Rae

Hired guns, bounty hunters and horse whisperers

Magazine article by Jude Rae, 2016

Jude Rae contemplates the portrait commission.

Making Stories video: 3 minutes
Making Stories video: 3 minutes
Making Stories video: 3 minutes
Making Stories video: 3 minutes

Kate Grenville

'Making Stories'

Portrait story

Australian writer Kate Grenville discusses her career and portrait by Jenny Sages.

Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000
Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000
Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000
Each morning when I wake up I put on my mothers face, 2000

Paths to portraiture

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

The life and art of Australian artist Jenny Sages is on display in the exhibition Paths to Portraiture.

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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.