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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.

Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE, 2006

Avril Thomas

oil on canvas (frame: 195.5 cm x 149.0 cm, support: 183.0 cm x 137.0 cm)

Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE (b. 1931), former sprinter, was Governor of South Australia from 2001 to 2007. The ‘Lithgow Flash’ won Olympic gold medals in the 100m and 200m at Helsinki in 1952, becoming the first Australian woman to win an Olympic gold medal for track and field and the first Australian to win an Olympic gold medal on the running track since 1896. Between 1950 and 1954 she won every State and Australian title for the 100 yards and 220 yards. She broke world sprint records ten times and garnered seven Commonwealth Games gold medals. Sportsman of the Year in 1952, in 1953 she was awarded an MBE for her services to athletics. Since the death from leukaemia in 1977 of her husband, Peter Nelson, she has been dedicated to securing funds to sponsor research into the disease, raising several million dollars for facilities in Adelaide.

Avril Thomas painted Jackson-Nelson in a number of sittings at Government House. The portrait incorporates objects referring to Jackson-Nelson’s position as Governor and her Olympic career, such as her kangaroo-skin running spikes and a maquette of the life-sized statue of her in her home town of Lithgow.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned 2006

Accession number: 2006.54

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Avril Thomas (age 50 in 2006)

Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE (age 75 in 2006)

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Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE, 2006 Avril Thomas
Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE, 2006 Avril Thomas
Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE, 2006 Avril Thomas
Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE, 2006 Avril Thomas

Spikes: then and now

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

As part of its ongoing program of commissions of portraits of prominent Australians, the National Portrait Gallery has unveiled a portrait of Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson by South Australian artist Avril Thomas.

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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.