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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.

Margaret Whitlam

2005
Sahlan Hayes

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 60.0 cm x 79.0 cm, image: 47.4 cm x 70.0 cm)

Margaret Whitlam AO (1919-2012), social worker and writer, swam in the 1938 Empire Games before marrying Gough Whitlam in 1942. The following year she began work at the Family Welfare Bureau, and in 1948 she graduated with a social work degree from Sydney University. When Gough Whitlam became the Member for Werriwa in 1952, Margaret assumed many duties in his electorate; from 1964 to 1967 she also served as a hospital social worker. An active member of the Labor Party Women's Conference, just after her husband became Prime Minister in 1972 she entertained Germaine Greer at the Lodge. During Whitlam's term in office Margaret maintained a high profile as a speaker and columnist, publishing My Day in 1973. Listed as a National Living Treasure, late in life she served on a host of arts, welfare and educational committees, and wrote of her extensive overseas travels in My Other World (2001). Margaret died shortly before the Whitlams' seventieth wedding anniversary.

This portrait, taken on the rooftop terrace of the Whitlams' Sydney apartment block, won the Nikon Walkley Photographic Portrait Award for 2005.

Sahlan Hayes was born in the United Kingdom and lived with his family in the USA and New Zealand before settling in Australia. After working as a cadet photographer in Sydney for the Australian in the late 1980s, he returned to England in 1991 to work freelance. Since 1994, he has been a full-time photographer with the Sydney Morning Herald, undertaking news, features and portraiture assignments. Apart from his portrait photographs of many prominent Australian and international figures, he has documented the refugee crisis in Croatia during the war, the northern migration of humpback whales along the east coast of NSW and the discovery of prehistoric human remains in Flores, Indonesia.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2006
© Sahlan Hayes

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

Sahlan Hayes (age 38 in 2005)

Margaret Whitlam AO (age 86 in 2005)

Donated by

Sahlan Hayes (3 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.

Margaret Whitlam
Margaret Whitlam
Margaret Whitlam
Margaret Whitlam

Glossy too

Magazine article by Christine Clark, 2005

The Glossy 2 exhibition highlights the integral role magazine photography plays in illustrating and shaping our contemporary culture.

Margaret Whitlam
Margaret Whitlam
Margaret Whitlam
Margaret Whitlam

Open Air

Portraits in the Landscape

Previous exhibition, 2008

Open Air is an exhibition of portraits of Australians in environments of particular significance to them.

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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 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.

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