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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.

Study (a) for portrait of Helen Garner, 2003

Jenny Sages

charcoal, pencil and oil on canvas (support: 30.5 cm x 23.0 cm)

These sketches of Helen Garner record the hours she and Jenny Sages spent talking together in the studio atop the artist's home in Sydney's eastern suburbs. The space is a bright eyrie, and though they are 'preparatory' works these paintings are good examples of Sages's skill at capturing the light of varying times of day. The artist had approached the author as a stranger, but having met, the two soon formed a comfortable connection. In 2010 Garner revisited the space, to talk with Sages and filmmaker Catherine Hunter about the experience of having her portrait painted. Although the recent meeting was 'set up' for the purpose of the film, Sages found that everyone relaxed straight away, and conversation and laughter amongst the three women - one in her forties, one in her fifties and one in her seventies (one mother, and two grandmothers) - flowed naturally.

Caption: Sarah Engledow, National Portrait Gallery

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of J Sages Family Trust 2009
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Jenny Sages

Accession number: 2009.28

Currently not on display

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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.

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.

Irina Baronova (handing on the baton), 2007 Jenny Sages
Irina Baronova (handing on the baton), 2007 Jenny Sages
Irina Baronova (handing on the baton), 2007 Jenny Sages
Irina Baronova (handing on the baton), 2007 Jenny Sages

Handing on the baton

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2009

Michael Desmond explores the life of ballerina Irina Baranova through the portrait by Australian artist Jenny Sages.

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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.