Australians are known to love their sports. We find many of our heroes and shared values on the sporting field – notions of being a good sport,
having dignity in defeat, being socially inclusive and playing fair. This exhibit is the first in a series that explores the collection
of the National Portrait Gallery and looks into our sporting culture and the Australian identity throughout history.
Sport and the Australian Identity
Sport is widely believed to be integral in defining the Australian identity. Australians have a remarkable and enduring affection for sport - loving to both play and watch.
Australia v England (1887) by Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples, George Barrable and Goupil & Cie (engraver)National Portrait Gallery
Australians are avid spectators of many games and codes, both in large numbers at the grounds and via broadcasts.
Betty Cuthbert (2002) by Andrew DalyNational Portrait Gallery
In 1956, television broadcasting was introduced, so as many Australians as possible, could watch the Melbourne Olympic Games.
Sir Donald Bradman (1990) by Bill LeakNational Portrait Gallery
Many of our most cherished names and stories, ‘The Don’...
Dawn Fraser (1998 (printed 2001))National Portrait Gallery
Ian Thorpe (2002) by James HoustonNational Portrait Gallery
...and ‘Thorpedo’ are cast as role models, the mythology around which speaks not only of our sporting history, but also of our values.
Shane Warne (2006) by Robin SellickNational Portrait Gallery
At times, our sporting stars have also been cast as figures that are controversial, dividing public opinion.
Reflecting Australia’s obsession with sport, the National Portrait Gallery has many diverse portraits of Australian sportspeople.
Stuart O'Grady (2008) by Matthys GerberNational Portrait Gallery
This exhibit was written by:
- Annette Twyman, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Sally Adair, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Sally Dawson, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Kirstin Gunether, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Emily Casey, Program Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery
- Alana Sivell, Digital Learning Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery
- Johanna McMahon, Art History intern, Australian National University.
This exhibit was edited and produced by Alana Sivell, Digital Learning Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery.
We would like to acknowledge the generous support from all artists and organisations for letting us include these works.
Thank you to Robin Sellick for enabling us to investigate Australia's sporting culture through the inclusion of his photographic portraits.