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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.

Gaby Kennard, 2020

Lisa Tomasetti

archival pigment print on paper (100 cm x 142 cm, frame: 112.5 x 155.5 depth 4.0)

Gabrielle ‘Gaby’ Kennard OAM (b. 1944) was the first Australian woman to fly solo around the world. Kennard grew up dreaming of flying – her childhood hero was Amelia Earhart – but she only began lessons at the age of 34. Kennard gained her pilot’s licence in 1979, and, a decade later on the 3rd of August 1989, began her solo flight from Sydney in her single-engine Piper Saratoga aircraft. Overcoming challenges including intense loneliness, malfunctioning equipment, and a terrifying series of engine cut-outs, Kennard completed the 54,000 kilometre flight in 99 days. She was feted on her return by jubilant crowds at Bankstown airport and with a motorcade through the Sydney CBD. Kennard’s subsequent, numerous recognitions include the Harmon Trophy, the Nancy Bird Walton Trophy, and the keys to the cities of Sydney; Atchison, USA; and Memphis, USA. The aviator summed things up in pithy terms at the end of her 1990 book Solo Woman (1990): ‘I am an ordinary person, capable of extraordinary things – like all of us’.

Photographer Lisa Tomasetti has exhibited her work for a quarter of a century across Australia and internationally, and for the last 11 of those she’s also been the official international tour photographer for The Australian Ballet. Adding to a diverse and successful career arc, Tomasetti is also a stills photographer for the film and television industry, with credits for major productions such as Shine, Star Wars Episode II, The Sapphires, Cleverman and Ladies in Black under her belt. In this portrait, created in Sydney in January 2020, Tomasetti sought to reflect both Kennard’s bravery and warmth. The concept for the shoot derived from the lighting and dramatic atmosphere of Renaissance paintings, while the aeroplane that features is a partially complete model of the type of plane in which Kennard undertook her historic flight.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Joan Connery OAM 2020
© Lisa Tomasetti

Accession number: 2020.1

Currently on display: Gallery Seven (Ian Potter Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Lisa Tomasetti (age 57 in 2020)

Gabrielle '. Kennard OAM (age 76 in 2020)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

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Brooke Lockett, Heidi Martin, Karen Nanasca, Halaina Hills; New York, 2012 Lisa Tomasetti
Brooke Lockett, Heidi Martin, Karen Nanasca, Halaina Hills; New York, 2012 Lisa Tomasetti
Brooke Lockett, Heidi Martin, Karen Nanasca, Halaina Hills; New York, 2012 Lisa Tomasetti

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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.