21 trailblazing women dominate new photography exhibition

07 Feb 2013

The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled a new exhibition celebrating 21 leading women to have shaped the last century and broken new ground for Australian women.

The First ladies: significant Australian women 1913 – 2013 was launched by Imelda Roche AO, who is featured in the exhibition for her entrepreneurial and business success.

The women featured are from a diverse range of backgrounds. As Louise Doyle, director of the National Portrait Gallery said: "Amongst the suffragettes, scientists and politicians, also represented in First ladies are artists, sprinters and serve-volleyers!"

Australia's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and first female Governor-General Quentin Bryce are included, as are some of our sporting stars such as Cathy Freeman and Louise Sauvage.

The exhibition offers gallery visitors an insight into the last 100 years of progress of Australian women, with women's rights campaigners Vida Goldstein, Jessie Street and Rose Scott also featured.

Other sitters include Elizabeth Blackburn, the first Australian-born woman to win the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 2009 for her work in molecular biology. It also features Maude Rose 'Lores' Bonney, the first woman to circumnavigate Australia by air, and the first female winner of the Archibald Prize, Nora Heysen.

The exhibition is part of the Centenary of Canberra celebrations, with the celebrations' February theme being women in sport. It was curated by Joanne Gilmour, and mostly sourced from the existing stock of the gallery, which was established in 1998. The exhibition will run until 16 June 2013.

Rose Powell

Rose Powell is a journalist with Women's Agenda sister publication StartUpSmart.

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