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National Portrait Gallery presents Shirley Purdie's Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe
Installation view.

CANBERRA.- The National Portrait Gallery this week launches an online exhibition of Shirley Purdie’s remarkable self-portrait Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe to coincide with Reconciliation Week.

An expansive, 36 panel work that pays homage to the women in Purdie’s family, Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, meaning ‘from my women’, occupies an entire gallery wall. Currently installed in the NPG’s main entrance gallery, this striking artwork is now also available as an online exhibition while the gallery remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, and is accompanied by a video of Shirley talking about her life.

Shirley is a senior Gija woman, a leader within the Warmun Community, and has lived on Gija Country in Western Australia’s East Kimberley all her life. Inspired by more senior Warmun artists, including her late mother, the great Madison Thomas, Purdie began to paint her Country in the early 1990s and is now an artist of increasing significance, with works held in several national and international private and public collections.

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe was created for the 2018 National Portrait Gallery exhibition So Fine: Contemporary women artists make Australian history, and was acquired by the gallery last year. A non-representational portrait, Shirley describes herself through the significant women in her life and their relationships and stories rather than their physical appearance. Each of the 36 panels shares a story about kinship, familial obligations, the environment and the role of art, song, dance and spirituality in ceremony and culture.

“The exhibition is a striking, yet simultaneously quiet and intimate retelling of a life through collective familial knowledge and sense of place, of home – all themes that resonate strongly at present,” said Karen Quinlan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery. “We are thrilled to present Purdie’s extraordinary work online while we remain closed, and also on show once we are able to reopen.”

Further online engagement including NPG news and activities are available via PortraitureComesHome (via including The Amazing Face, a free 14 day masterclass on the art of portraiture, and long-time favourite Portrait Stories, over 100 mini-movies showcasing the collaboration between portrait artists and their subjects.

Visitors also have until the end of May to vote for their favourites from the current NPG prize exhibitions - The Darling Prize for painting and the National Photographic Portrait Prize - in the People’s Choice Awards, which will be announced in early June.

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