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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

1995
Jenny Sages

charcoal on paper (sheet: 23.5 cm x 16.5 cm)

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (c. 1910–1996) is one of Australia's most significant artists. An Anmatyerre woman, Kngwarreye was born at Alhalkere, Utopia Station in the Northern Territory. After her ancestral land was appropriated for cattle grazing, she worked as a stockhand. As she grew older she became a leader in Awelye (women's business), experienced in ceremonial body painting. In 1977 she was a founding member of the Utopia Women's Batik Group and collaborated in the production of batik, an important industry for the Anmatyerre after they regained land title. Kngwarreye began to paint on canvas late in life, in 1988. She held her first solo exhibition in 1990 at Utopia Art Sydney, and her popularity grew. During her brief career she produced thousands of canvases depicting the flowers, roots, dust and summer rains of her Country, the translucent colours built up with layered touches of paint to create an illusion of depth and movement. After her death in 1996, Kngwarreye's work represented Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale. In 1998 a retrospective exhibition, Alhalkere: Paintings from Utopia, travelled to three state galleries and the National Gallery of Australia. Ten years later Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, an exhibition of 120 of the artist's works, showed in Osaka and Tokyo. With that exhibition, Kngwarreye was recognised as one of the very greatest abstract artists of the twentieth century.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Bequest of Alan Boxer 2014
© 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 62 in 1995)

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (age 85 in 1995)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Estate of Alan Boxer (2 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.

Ningali Lawford-Wolf
Ningali Lawford-Wolf
Ningali Lawford-Wolf
Ningali Lawford-Wolf

Powerful Indigenous women

Magazine article by June Oscar AO, 2017

June Oscar AO lauds three iconic Aboriginal figures in the Portrait Gallery collection who have inspired and influenced her.

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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency