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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 AO (b. 1950), novelist, published her first collection of short stories Bearded Ladies in 1984. Her novels Lilian's Story (1985) – which won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award – and Dreamhouse (1986) were both made into Australian feature films in the 1990s. 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), based on her great-great-great-grandfather's life, won many prizes, including the Commonwealth Prize for Literature and the Christina Stead Prize. It was adapted for the stage by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2013 and 2016 and made into a 2015 ABC television series.

In her textured, detailed painting Jenny Sages has depicted Grenville by the Hawkesbury River, the setting for The Secret River and its sequels The Lieutenant (2008) and Sarah Thornhill (2011). In an interview about the portrait Grenville said: 'When we found that spot by the river, and the little jetty, we both knew straight away that that was it. I took off my shoes, because I very much wanted to have that feeling of being barefoot on the land … And she drew me, and photographed me, and then went away and produced this wonderful portrait.'

Gift of the artist 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Jenny Sages

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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

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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

'The secret river'

Portrait story

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

Kate Grenville

'Making Stories'

Portrait story

Australian writer Kate Grenville discusses her career and portrait by 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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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