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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 3 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 54,000km 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.'

In this portrait, Lisa 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.

Purchased with funds provided by Joan Connery OAM 2020
© Lisa Tomasetti

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

Lisa Tomasetti (age 57 in 2020)

Gabrielle Kennard OAM (age 76 in 2020)

Related information

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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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Aviator Gaby Kennard talks about her portrait and what motivated her to fly around the world.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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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