Portrait in Parliament House

The portrait of Nova Peris OAM, unveiled at Parliament House on Wednesday October 16,2019, is part of Australia’s longest-running art commissioning program, the Historic Memorials Collection – and it is the first to be painted by an Indigenous artist.



The painting, by Dr Jandamarra Cadd, depicts Ms Peris as she presented herself on the day of her first speech to the Senate. Her face is painted in ceremonial style, her gold silk outfit featuring dancing brolgas.

Dr Cadd, a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Warrung man, is the first Aboriginal artist to paint a portrait for the Historic Memorials Collection, which was established in 1911.

Ms Peris, a woman of the Yawuru, Gidja and Iwatja people, served as a Senator for the Northern Territory from 2013 to 2016. She said she wanted her portrait to show “all of me – all that I am and all that I have aspired to be”.

Before politics, Ms Peris, as a member of the Hockeyroos at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, became the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. She followed that with two gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, in the 200m sprint and the 4×100-metre relay.

She remains the only person in the world to make back-to-back summer Olympic Games finals in two different sports.

Writer: Tony Wright – Sydney Morning Herald


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