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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.

Betty Churcher, 2008

Adam Knott

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 68.0 cm x 61.0 cm, image: 64.5 cm x 55.0 cm, frame: depth 4.3 cm)

Betty Churcher AO (1931-2015), gallery director, author, painter and lecturer, was educated in Brisbane before studying art in London. In 1955 she married English artist Roy Churcher and two years later they returned to Brisbane, where throughout the 1960s Betty Churcher worked as a high school art teacher. From 1972 to 1975 she was an art critic for the Australian. A mother of four, at the age of 44 she returned to London to study art history at the Courtauld Institute, and from 1981 to 1987 she taught at Melbourne’s Preston/ Phillip Institute of Technology. In 1987, by which time she had spent some years on the Australia Council and the Visual Arts Board, she was ‘headhunted’ to become director of the Art Gallery of WA, thus becoming the first female director of an Australian state gallery. After three years in Perth she moved to Canberra to succeed James Mollison as Director of the National Gallery of Australia. Having led the institution from 1990 to 1997, from 1998 she was an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Cross Cultural Research at the ANU, and presented three beguiling television series on art. Her books include Understanding Art (1974), which won a London Times Literary Award, and Notebooks (2011).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2013

Accession number: 2013.67

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Adam Knott (age 42 in 2008)

Betty Churcher AO (age 77 in 2008)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

Betty Churcher, 2008 Adam Knott
Betty Churcher, 2008 Adam Knott
Betty Churcher, 2008 Adam Knott
Betty Churcher, 2008 Adam Knott

Tribute

Betty Churcher

Magazine article, 2015

Betty Churcher AO (1931–2015), gallery director, author, painter and lecturer, was educated in Brisbane before studying art in London.

Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes
Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes
Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes
Betty Churcher on Captain Cook video: 3 minutes

'The portraits of Captain Cook'

An interview with Betty Churcher

Portrait story

Betty Churcher describes the creation of the portrait of Captain James Cook in the National Portrait Gallery.

'Blockbuster Betty' video: 3 minutes
'Blockbuster Betty' video: 3 minutes
'Blockbuster Betty' video: 3 minutes
'Blockbuster Betty' video: 3 minutes

Betty Churcher

'Blockbuster Betty'

Portrait story

Betty Churcher discusses her career as the Director of the National Gallery of Australia.

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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.