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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.

Kate (Kate Grenville), 2012

Jenny Sages

encaustic, oil and pigment on composition board (support: 180.0 cm x 190.0 cm)

Kate Grenville (b. 1950), novelist, studied in Sydney and worked as a film editor before spending several years in the UK and Europe, where she began to write. After completing an MA in creative writing at the University of Colorado, she returned to Australia in 1983 and worked at SBS Television’s subtitling unit. In 1984 she published the collection of stories Bearded Ladies. Her novels Lilian's Story (1985) – loosely based on the life of Bea Miles – and Dreamhouse (1986) were both made into Australian feature films in the 1990s. Her The Idea of Perfection (2000) won the Orange Prize, a prominent British award for the best book by a woman, in 2001. A few years later, her international best-seller The Secret River (2005) won many prizes, including the Commonwealth Prize for Literature and the Christina Stead Prize. In 2008 she published The Lieutenant, a novel based on the Sydney experiences of First Fleet officer William Dawes. Grenville’s novels have been widely published in translation. She has also written or co-written several books about the process of writing, which are used in school and university writing courses.

Sages has depicted Grenville by the Hawkesbury River, the setting for The Secret River and its sequel, Sarah Thornhill (2011).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2014
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Jenny Sages

Accession number: 2014.7

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Jenny Sages (age 79 in 2012)

Kate Grenville AO (age 62 in 2012)

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.

Kate Grenville reading The Secret River video: 6 minutes
Kate Grenville reading The Secret River video: 6 minutes
Kate Grenville reading The Secret River video: 6 minutes
Kate Grenville reading The Secret River video: 6 minutes

Kate Grenville

'The secret river'

Portrait story

Kate Grenville reads a passage from her novel The secret river and describes its creation.

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.

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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.