When I was in Canberra I made some time to stop off at the Portrait Gallery. Years ago when I lived there it was located in old Parliament House. It now has it very own, purpose built building squished in next to and in front of the High Court of Australia. I'm not sure what to make of the building - actually, that's not true at all. It looks very odd and out of place as if it's been added as an after thought.
No matter, the collection inside the building was wonderful. Portraits weren't limited to stiff, posed and formal paintings of venerable citizens. Thank goodness. There were sculptures, busts and miniatures. Paintings, photographs and even a tapestry.
My favourite was this portrait of Midnight Oil painted by eX de Medici. While she was working on this commission for the National Portrait Gallery she was also running her Canberra based tattoo business. Her name is familiar to me as my husband has a tattoo inked by her on his leg. I had no idea that at the time she was making tatts she was also painting this incredible portrait using quills cut from the feathers of wedge-tailed eagles and pigments from the bark of mangrove trees in Kakadu which forms the backdrop for the painting. On the necks of the band are patterns from wings on moths in the Kakadu region.
We made it through the first two rooms before smallest of all was hungry and had had enough. I did manage to sneak into the little shop at the end which was wonderful. I do love a good museum gift shop - so thoughtfully curated with beautiful art objects. I'll definitely be coming back to see the rest of the collection and pick up some treasures at the gift shop.