Joanna Gilmour is the Curator at the National Portrait Gallery. Among her previous exhibitions and publications for the Gallery are Husbands & Wives (2010); Indecent exposure: Annette Kellerman (2011); and Elegance in exile: portrait drawings from colonial Australia (2012); and she has twice been the co-ordinating curator of the National Photographic Portrait Prize (2012 and 2013). She oversees the twice-yearly changeovers to the Gallery’s permanent Collection Displays, and has consequently become a bit of a boffin where Australian history is concerned. Explorers, bushrangers, strumpets, mutineers, and cannibal convicts are among the topics she’s explored in floortalks and in her writing for Portrait magazine; while her fascination with the Burke and Wills story led to an interest in the prevalence of bushy beards in portraits of chaps from the 1850s and 1860s, resulting in the 2011 online exhibition Jo’s Mo Show (with beards). Her current projects include The Wax Museum – an exhibition on the subject of death masks, posthumous portraits and other evidence of late nineteenth century Australia’s taste for the fiendish and ghoulish – which will open in December 2015.
Infamy, the macabre & the portrait
Death masks, post-mortem drawings and other spooky and disquieting portraits... Come and see how portraits of infamous Australians were used in the 19th century.
Waxworks were among the various types of entertainment venue to emerge in Australian cities in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Portrait Gallery
Photography played a significant role in the circulation of messages about law and order, and in the creation of sensation and celebrity.
The Victorian era has been described as one wherein death was a part of everyday experience. People died at home having been nursed in their final illnesses by family members.
By the end of the eighteenth century, crime, criminals and punishment were standard subjects for those engaged in the English print trade.
The Freak Show
Many performers availed themselves of the services of photographic studios, posing for carte de visite portraits that served as souvenirs and as instruments in the making of renown and notoriety.
The Dissecting Room
Though initially developed by physicians, phrenology was taken up by certain non-medical practitioners who applied the theory to social questions such as education and criminal reform.
Joanna Gilmour, National Photographic Portrait Prize judge and curator, introduces the 2013 Prize.
Elegance in exile
Portrait drawings from colonial Australia
Elegance in exile is an exhibition surveying the work of Richard Read senior, Thomas Bock, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright and Charles Rodius: four artists who, though exiled to Australia as convicts, created many of the most significant and elegant portraits of the colonial period.
Jo's mo show
This exhibition illustrates changes in beards, moustaches and sideburns from the 1780s to the 1980s.
'Diving Venus' and 'the perfect woman' are two of the numerous descriptions applied to Annette Kellerman, who achieved international fame during the early decades of the twentieth century.