Polixeni Papapetrou<br/>
<em>Blinded</em> 2016<br/>
from the <em>Eden</em> series 2016<br/>
inkjet print<br/>
127.5 x 85.0 cm <br/>
Private collection<br/>
© the estate of Polixeni Papapetrou, Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney and Jarvis Dooney, Berlin

As She Appears: The Muse in Art Presented in Partnership with the Wheeler Centre

Past program

Free entry

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square

Ground Level

The idea of the artistic muse dates back to classical mythology and enjoyed a surprisingly long run as a celebrated, romanticised notion in western art. Today, the notion seems archaic – at least in its traditional sense – yet many artists are still preoccupied with the figure of the muse, even if they’re more concerned with distorting and subverting old ideas of female representation.

What’s the line between inspiration and objectification? And how and when does the muse return or deflect the artist’s gaze? When does the muse reveal herself, and when does she reveal more about her creator?

In this series of after-hours events, uncover the many meanings of the muse with curators, writers and performers as they respond to works in the NGV collection – talking representation, inspiration, family and the female body.

Thu 17 Oct, 7–8.15pm (Past)

Explore representations of destructive and seductive women in mythology, looking at Bertram Mackennal’s Circe (1893) and John Longstaff’s The Sirens (1892) in the NGV’s 20th century Australian art gallery.


Dr Angela Hesson is Curator of Australian Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). She has curated numerous exhibitions, including Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art (2019) and Love: Art of Emotion 1400-1800 (2017). Prior to her appointment at the NGV, she was employed as a lecturer in Art History and Literature at The University of Melbourne and at La Trobe University, and as a curator at The Johnston Collection.  Angela has also worked extensively as a freelance arts writer.

Vidya Makan is perhaps most well known for her recent critically acclaimed performance as ‘Dot/Marie’ in Sunday In The Park With George (Watch This), Vidya Makan is no stranger to theatre. She is a composer, singer, actor and musician, living in Melbourne, Australia, dedicated to changing the scope of the ‘conventional musical theatre’ scene. She is currently working with Front and Centre to develop My Home Too, a song cycle about Australia and home. Her debut musical Woman, inspired by the lives of Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe also received a rehearsed reading in July with Watch This. She is a frequent face at Homegrown concerts, which celebrate the best of Australian musical theatre.

As a performer, her credits include Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet (Australian Shakespeare Company), Green Day’s American Idiot (Shake and Stir), Air Race (Arena Theatre Company) and the lead role Maria Krish in the feature film The Colour of Darkness, currently available on Amazon, to name a few. Vidya is a proud graduate of Griffith University’s Bachelor of Musical Theatre and attributes her love for storytelling to her music and theatre obsessed family.

Nayuka Gorrie is a Gunai/Kurnai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta freelance and comedy television writer. Their writing centres on black, feminist and queer politics. hey wrote and performed in season three of Black Comedy. They are a recipient of the 2018 Wheeler Centre Next Chapter program. They are writing a book of essays.

Roj Amedi is senior human rights campaigner at GetUp! and a writer and editor based in Naarm/Melbourne. Roj’s editorial experience has spanned across art, culture and design, editing publications such as Acclaim Magazine and Neue Luxury. She has also written for The Saturday Paper, SBS, Vault, Swampland, Meanjin, amongst others.

Thu 24 Oct, 7–8.15pm (Past)

Consider community and country as inspiration in the work of Indigenous women artists, writers and performers, responding to Lorna Napurrurla Fencer’s Yala Jukurrpa (1986) and Louisa Napaljarri Lawson’s Mala Jukurrpa (1986), currently on display in Marking Time: Indigenous Art from the NGV.


Judith Ryan AM is Senior Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Judith received a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Arts and English Literature at The University of Melbourne and a Certificate in Education at Oxford University. In her role at the NGV she has curatorial responsibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Oceanic Art and Pre-Columbian Art. Judith’s special interest is Indigenous Australian art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Judith has curated numerous exhibitions of Indigenous art, has published widely in the field and has been responsible for developing the NGV’s collection of Indigenous Art.

Bridget Caldwell is a Jingili Mudburra writer, editor, artist and activist, currently based in Narrm/Birraranga. She works as co-editor for Archer Magazine as well as literary journal The Lifted Brow. She was previously managing editor for Blak Brow, a Black Women’s Collective edition of The Lifted Brow.

Taylah Cole is an Indigenous textile designer and artist with a Bachelor of Arts in Textile Design. Storytelling is something that always unifies all areas of her practice as it is embedded in her identity. Through her storytelling, she seeks to evoke emotion, aiming to create aesthetics in her work with a hidden darker meaning, juxtaposing the rise in contemporary Indigenous art and design whilst highlighting the tumultuous nature of Australia’s history.

Laniyuk is a writer and performer of poetry and short memoir. She contributed to the book Colouring the Rainbow: Blak, Queer and Trans Perspectives in 2015, has been published online in Djed Press and The Lifted Brow, as well as in poetry collections such as UQP’s 2019 Solid Air. She received Canberra’s Noted Writer’s Festival’s 2017 Indigenous Writers Residency, Overland’s 2018 Writers Residency and was shortlisted for Overland’s 2018 Nakata-Brophy poetry prize. She is Cordite Poetry Review’s current Indigenous Engagement Editor, runs poetry workshops for festivals such as Girls Write Up, moderates panel discussions, and has given lectures at ANU and The University of Melbourne. She is currently completing her first collection of work to be published through Magabala Books.


Thu 31 Oct, 7–8.15pm (Past)

Inspired by Olympia: Photographs by Polixeni Papapetrou and Petrina Hicks: Bleached Gothic, on display at NGV Australia, the final event in the series focuses on contemporary artists, writers and thinkers who return to their own personal muse again and again. How do these representations subvert traditional notions of the muse?


Dr Maria Quirk is the Project Officer for Research and Acquisitions at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). A historian of women’s and art history, she has previously held academic positions at the University of Queensland and Deakin University, and is a former State Library of Queensland research fellow. Maria’s research has previously appeared in Woman’s Art Journal, The Journal of Victorian Culture and Visual Culture in Britain. Her first monograph, Women, Art and Money in Late Victorian and Edwardian England: The Hustle and the Scramble was published by Bloomsbury in 2019.

Susan van Wyk is the Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Victoria. Since joining the NGV she has worked on more than sixty exhibitions of Australian and international photography. Her most recent project is the exhibition and accompanying catalogue Olympia: Photographs by Polixeni Papapetrou. Over a thirty-year career Susan has published widely on photography, and is the author of a number of books including No Standing Only Dancing: Photographs by Rennie Ellis, The Paris End: Photography Fashion and Glamour, and she was co-author of Colony: Australia 1770-1861,  Follow the flag: Australian artists at war and Second Sight: Australian Photography in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Maria Tumarkin is a writer and cultural historian. Her books include TraumascapesCourage, and Otherland, which was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award, NSW Premier’s Award and The Age Book of the Year. Her most recent book, Axiomatic, was published in 2018 by Brow Books.

Tumarkin’s essays have appeared in The Best Australian Essays (2011, 2012 & 2015), Griffith ReviewMeanjin, the MonthlySydney Review of Books, the Age, the Australian and Inside Story. Tumarkin is involved in wide-ranging artistic collaborations with visual artists, theatre makers and audio designers. She was a 2013–14 Sidney Myer Creative Fellow in humanities and is a member of the Melbourne Writers Festival’s programming committee. Maria holds a PhD in cultural history teaches creative writing at the University of Melbourne.

Eloise Grills is an award-winning visual essayist, a poet, educator and memoir editor for Scum Magazine. She was recently awarded the 2018 Woollahra Digital Literary Prize for Nonfiction for her Scum Magazine column, Diary of a Post-Teenage Girl, and The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction (2018). She was a finalist for the mid-year Walkleys, and was recently named as a finalist for the 2018 Subbed In Chapbook Prize.

Eloise’s graphic novel, Sexy Female Murderesses, was published by Glom Press in December 2018. Her poetry collection, If you’re sexy and you know it slap your hams, is forthcoming with Subbed In (April 2019). She tweets and grams as @grillzoid.

Access Australia First Nations Olympia Petrina Hicks Marking Time The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square

Program Partner