Inspiring learning with art and design

Olympia: Photographs by Polixeni Papapetrou

27 Sep 2019 – 15 Mar 2020, NGV Australia

This exhibition features photographs by Australian photographer Polixeni Papapetrou (1961–2018) of her daughter Olympia, covering the period from Olympia’s birth (1997) until the artist’s death (2018). Throughout this time, Olympia played a particularly important role in the artist’s image making, assuming the complex roles of model and muse, collaborator and champion.

Following the birth of her daughter, Papapetrou’s work underwent a significant change. Her earlier work had focused on the carefully constructed and stage-managed worlds of people who lived, worked and played in disguise, including drag queens, wrestlers and avid Elvis fans. However, after Olympia’s birth, Papapetrou began photographing her children, Olympia and Solomon, and later their friends. Rather than making Papapetrou’s world smaller, this apparently inward turn opened up a limitless world of play acting, imagination and storytelling.

This exhibition surveys twenty years of Papapetrou’s practice and includes works from her best-known series, as well as lesser-known images. Olympia: Photographs by Polixeni Papapetrou was curated in collaboration with the artist’s family. It draws from the NGV Collection and the artist’s estate, and is the first major museum retrospective of Papapetrou’s work.


Book your free self-guided visit.



Book a program with an NGV educator to introduce your students to the key themes of the exhibition.

The Creative Lens | Two Contemporary Photographers
Levels 7-12, Tertiary Mon-Fri, 10am, 11.30am & 1pm

Enter the playful, mysterious and thought-provoking worlds of leading Australian photographers, Polixeni Papapetrou and Petrina Hicks. Engage in lively discussion of the themes and ideas explored by each artist, comparing and contrasting their different styles and sources of inspiration.

1 hour

Cost: $8 per student