Last year I was asked by the National Portrait Gallery of Australia if I would like to photograph family violence campaigner and Australian of the Year 2015 Rosie Batty for the NPG collection. The commissioned image would form part of the NPG permanent collection and the exhibition Express Yourself to be launched in late March 2018. I was honoured to be asked to photograph a woman I have such a great deal of admiration for. After a few emails back and forth, we organised a suitable date for Rosie to come to my daylight studio in Melbourne. Rosie was very relaxed and easy going and the shoot was a joy.
The launch of the portrait took place at The National Portrait Gallery in January and was a lovely experience. The link to the ABC Canberra interview follows in the next blog entry.
Original text from the National Portrait Gallery website, January 24th. 2018
The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled a newly commissioned portrait of Australian domestic violence campaigner and 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.
The portrait, taken by Scottish born photographer Nikki Toole, shows Batty looking directly down the lens of the camera against a black backdrop. Her face draws the viewers focus, portraying a look of determination and resilience.
Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Angus Trumble, thinks Batty is an admirable addition to the collection based on her outstanding contributions to Australian society.
‘Rosie Batty has campaigned tirelessly for cultural and systemic changes in the way that domestic violence is viewed and treated within Australian society,’ said Trumble.
‘She was named Australian of the Year in January 2015 due to her incredible personal strength and selfless efforts to put domestic violence on the national agenda. In that same year she established the Luke Batty Foundation to assist victims of family violence and trauma.’
‘It is our immense pleasure to welcome this striking portrait of Rosie Batty into the national collection. Her contributions to our nation have already been immense and I am sure she will continue to be an advocate for victims of domestic violence both through the Luke Batty Foundation and as a campaigner.’
Photographer Nikki Toole was approached to undertake the portrait of Rosie Batty in July 2017. This is the second portrait in the Gallery’s collection by Toole but was no less significant to the artist.
‘It was such an honour to be asked by the Portrait Gallery to photograph Rosie Batty for the collection,’ said Toole.
‘Rosie has a calm strength that I feel came through during our shoot and I have so much admiration for the work that she does to help other victims of domestic violence. It gives me great pleasure to have played a part in her portrait being a part of the Portrait Gallery collection.'
The photograph is part of the National Portrait Gallery’s ongoing commissioning program. The program seeks to facilitate the creation of portraits of exceptional Australian figures who have not been the subject of serious portraiture and to ensure the collection is diverse and complex in its representation of subjects.
The portrait will be on display for visitors to see at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra from 24 January 2018. A Portrait Story featuring Rosie Batty talking about grief and searching for recognition of, and action on, domestic violence is available to view online.
Rosie Batty (b. 1962), campaigner against family violence, became well known to the Australian public in 2014, when her 11 year old son Luke was murdered by his father, her former husband, on an oval after cricket practice. Very soon after, she made a dignified public statement that captivated the nation. In 2015, she was Australian of the Year, using her position to call for widespread recognition of, and action on, domestic violence. Her memoir A Mother’s Story was published that year.