In the eighteen months following its establishment in 1998, the National Portrait Gallery acquired just over 120 portraits depicting some 110 different sitters. Roughly a third of these were women. Paintings of artists Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Nancy Borlase by Jenny Sages were among the first three works accessioned into the collection, and images of actress Judy Davis and swimming great Dawn Fraser were included in the first batch of photographic portraits purchased by the Gallery in December 1998.
Women in Focus presents a selection of these early acquisitions alongside a sample of the 2600 works in various media subsequently added to the collection through purchase, gift and commission. Underlining the National Portrait Gallery’s ongoing role in showcasing the varied and inventive approaches employed by portrait artists, the display also highlights the energy the Gallery has applied to the development of a collection documenting the strength and diversity of the achievements of contemporary Australian women.