So Fine: Contemporary women artists make Australian history, from 29 June, is also designed to reinterpret events, people and places from Australia’s past.
Curators Sarah Engledow and Christine Clark developed the exhibition to enrich the contemporary narrative around Australia’s history and biography.
“In the Portrait Gallery’s ever-growing collection, stories combine and recombine to form a national history. So Fine will reflect the rich tradition of storytelling in our country as it presents new perspectives on the past,” Ms Engledow said.
“The artists contributing to the exhibition are from very different parts of Australia, and of various ages and backgrounds. Aside from gender, their common attributes are a habit of serious thinking and a meticulous approach to creation,” Ms Clark added.
“Their combined works are intricate, refined and affecting objects that will provide unique interpretations of history and biography in this strikingly beautiful exhibition.”
Within the exhibition, more than 30 paintings by senior Gija artist Shirley Purdie will provide a kaleidoscope of perspectives on her culture, its familiar plants and animals and her family’s experiences on cattle stations in the East Kimberley.
Sydney sculptor Linde Ivimey honours Australian scientists in the Antarctic, uniting bones, skins and furs with other natural materials and hand-dyed, dextrously stitched fabrics.
Canberran painter Nicola Dickson sets paintings on canvas, painted coconut shells and words handcut from skin against a backdrop of sumptuous hand-blocked wallpaper, vividly evoking French encounters with indigenous Tasmanian and Pacific peoples in the eighteenth century.
Brisbane scholar and artist Pamela See (Xue Mei-Leng) cuts breathtakingly delicate paper images that attest to the contributions of Chinese entrepreneurs and innovators in nineteenth-century Australia.
Several artists featured in the exhibition will contribute to a panel discussion on Saturday 30 June as part of the Writing lives, revealing lives: portraiture and personhood forum. The forum is a partnership between the National Portrait Gallery and Australian National University and forms part of the Portrait Gallery’s 20th birthday celebrations.