As She Appears: The Muse in Art

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John Longstaff: The Sirens 1892, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

at NGV Australia, Federation Square


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.

Presented in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.


Portrait of Angela Hesson

Angela Hesson

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.

Portrait of Vidya Makan

Vidya Makan

Perhaps best 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, 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.

Portrait of Roj Amedi

Roj Amedi

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.

Portrait of Nayuka Gorrie

Nayuka Gorrie

 Nayuka Gorrie is a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri, and Yorta Yorta writer. Gorrie’s work explores black, queer and feminist politics. They wrote and performed in season three of Black Comedy. In 2018 they were named as a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter recipient, and are currently working on a book of essays.

As She Appears: The Muse in Art

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 at the NGV, uncover the many meanings of the muse with curators, writers and performers. They’ll respond to works in the NGV Collection – talking representation, inspiration, family and the female body.

Presented in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria.

Presented in partnership with