Three Portraits in the State Library of NSW

This summer, as the State Library celebrates its new permanent exhibition of paintings — many from the early days of the colony — the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra is rejigging its own ‘early Australian’ rooms. Its Robert Oatley Gallery usually presents the faces of our so-called Founding Fathers, with James Cook taking centre stage and Joseph Banks, Arthur Phillip and Lachlan Macquarie lined up dutifully beside him. At the moment, however, the gallery is displaying these imperial luminaries in ways that emphasise their relationships with Indigenous people and the wider context in which Australian settlement occurred. Artworks on loan from the Library have helped make this possible. Part of a large project called ‘Facing New Worlds’, the display seeks to shine light on the Indigenous men and women of the Pacific region who not only faced but also shaped, fought, helped or otherwise survived the arrival of European newcomers from the 1760s to the 1840s. Read the whole article in the SLNSW magazine here.

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