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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Helen Reddy

1978
Rennie Ellis

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 63.3 cm x 50.6 cm, image: 43.9 cm x 29.3 cm)

Helen Reddy (1941–2020), singer/songwriter, is best known for her anthem for women's liberation, 'I am Woman', inspired by Australian feminist and rock journalist Lillian Roxon. Born in Melbourne, Reddy began performing on stage with her parents at the age of four. After winning a talent contest on the television show Bandstand she moved to the USA in 1966. Twenty-seven music labels rejected her before she signed with Capitol Records in 1970, but over the course of the decade she was to achieve fourteen US Top 40 singles including three number ones. When she won a Grammy for 'I am Woman' in 1973, she famously thanked God: 'Because She makes everything possible.' With more gold records at the time than any other female artist except Barbra Streisand, at the height of her fame Reddy headlined to sell-out crowds in Las Vegas, and was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Reddy performed 'I am Woman' for the last time at the 2017 Women's March in LA in front of 750,000 people.

Photographer Rennie Ellis visited Reddy at home in California and found her 'friendly and unpretentious and proudly Australian'. She told Ellis: 'When I was in my early 20s I thought I could change the world – now I realise what a mammoth job it is just to change me.'

Purchased 2006
© Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive
www.RennieEllis.com.au

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.
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Show transcript

Artist and subject

Rennie Ellis (age 38 in 1978)

Helen Reddy (age 37 in 1978)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia

No shirt, no service

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Bon Scott and Angus Young photographed by Rennie Ellis are part of a display celebrating summer and images of the shirtless male.

Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross
Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross
Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross
Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross

Aussies All

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

Rennie Ellis photographs the self-proclaimed 'Witch of Kings Cross'.

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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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