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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.

Layne Beachley, 2008

Petrina Hicks

inkjet print (frame: 124.5 cm x 113.5 cm, sheet: 122.0 cm x 111.0 cm, image: 110.5 cm x 99.5 cm)

Layne Beachley AO (b. 1972), former surfer and business woman, is arguably the world’s most successful female professional surfer. Growing up in Manly, Beachley had a nondescript amateur surfing record before turning professional in 1989. By the time she was twenty she was ranked number six in the world. Over the course of the 1990s she persevered through debilitating illness to triumph at the World Championship in 1998. She won the same title in the next five consecutive years, between 1999 and 2003, and took a seventh title in 2006, her seventeenth year on the tour. Her other women’s surfing records include riding the biggest wave ever, gaining the most world championship tour victories and earning the most money on the circuit. In 2003 she founded the Aim for the Stars Foundation to benefit young Australian women. She was inducted into the American Surfers’ Hall of Fame and earned a stone on the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 2006. That year, she initiated the richest event in women’s surfing history, the Havaianas Beachley Classic at Manly. Inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2011, Beachley is now chair of Surfing Australia, and is an inspiring speaker and ambassador for various charities and causes.

Petrina Hicks has spent more than a decade making series of photographs of individuals that strain the definition of portraiture, finding, it has been said, ‘beauty in perceived imperfections and render[ing] idealised beauty strange’. Commissioned to portray Layne Beachley, Hicks said that she chose to make a stark representation of the champion as she ‘wanted her eyes to be the central focus… I realised these were where all her strength is revealed.’ During the shoot in Hicks’s Bondi apartment, Beachley observed that in her experience, ‘whales look you right in the eye, but sharks stare straight through you’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned 2008

Accession number: 2008.87.1

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Petrina Hicks (age 36 in 2008)

Layne Beachley AO (age 36 in 2008)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related portraits

1. Layne Beachley, 2008. All Petrina Hicks.

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.

Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks
Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks
Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks
Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks

Everybody's heard about the bird

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2008

Two professionals; Australian surfer Layne Beachley and photographer Petrina Hicks, combine their strengths to achieve a remarkable portrait.

Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks
Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks
Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks
Layne Beachley, 2008 Petrina Hicks

Collection: Icons

Volume One

Previous exhibition, 2018

When a portrait communicates determination and individuality as boldly as these do, it has the potential to become an iconic image. For the Gallery’s 20th birthday this display brings together a group contemporary photographic portraits of inspiring women and men.

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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.