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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.

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Portrait of Ruth Cracknell as the Sibyl

1995
Rosemary Valadon

oil on canvas (183.0 cm x 122.0 cm)

Ruth Cracknell AM (1925–2002), actor, became a household name through her character Maggie Beare in the ABC comedy Mother and Son, which ran from 1985 to 1994. Cracknell joined an amateur drama club at seventeen and began her career in radio drama in the 1940s. For over five decades she appeared in a great number of significant theatre, television, radio and film productions, including heading the cast of A Cup of Tea, a Bex and a Good Lie Down (1965) at the Phillip Street Theatre and a memorable performance as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest for the Melbourne and Sydney theatre companies (1988–1992). Her autobiography, A Biased Memoir (1997) was followed by a thoughtful account of the death of her husband of 41 years, Eric Phillips, and her own 'journey' through grief, Journey From Venice (2000). In 2001 she received the Gold Logie Hall of Fame Award and a lifetime achievement award at the Helpmann Awards. Cracknell was an influential spokesperson for older Australian women and an advocate for Aboriginal rights.

Between 1990 and 1996 Rosemary Valadon completed The Goddess Series, a major series of portraits of Australian women as mythological/archetypal figures. Cracknell considered this painting to be her definitive portrait.

Purchased 2000
© Rosemary Valadon

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

Rosemary Valadon (age 48 in 1995)

Ruth Cracknell (age 70 in 1995)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related portraits

1. Rosemary Valadon, 1995. All Greg Weight.

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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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