Ned Kelly, infamous bushranger and Australia’s pre-eminent folk hero, his likeness captured in a three-dimensional cast plaster death mask made in 1880, attributed to Maximilian Kreitmayer, proprietor of the Melbourne wax works.

The death mask is life-size; it depicts Ned’s head, neck and a small portion of his right shoulder. The head tips to the right, eyes and lips closed; the expression calm. It is creamy white, chalky and unpretentious.

Ned’s head is small and round, the domed scalp without a skerrick of hair. The baldness highlights an uneven surface of bumps and depressions. His short forehead rests on a prominent brow, thick bushy eyebrows running straight and low along it, each hair presses on top of another, enmeshed. The eyebrows join above the bridge of the nose in a subtle monobrow.

His large almond shaped eyes, softly shut, bulge in their sockets. Thick eyelashes fan out along the edge of his eyelids, very short and blunt at the inner corners, lengthening as they extend outward. Fine wrinkles are lightly etched into the surface around his eyes.

Ned’s broad chiselled cheekbones frame a wide, delicately pointed nose. His thin, tender lips, gently closed. The flesh around his jowls and under his jaw swells, as if the face were slumping backward into the cranium. Slackened skin squeezing into folds creates a deep crease under the chin, it runs the entire width of his swollen throat. His head hinges abruptly, tilting down toward his right shoulder.

His large ears, details of which are crudely defined, have attached lobes. A raised line of chunky plaster makes its way up his shoulders and the sides of his neck, across his ears, and over his head, as if dividing the death mask in two halves. The creamy matt surface is unpolished and pitted, there are tiny blemishes, scuffs and scratches.

Audio description written by Marina Neilsen and voiced by Rory Walker