Artist paints Nova Peris for a ‘historic’ collection

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“Nova Peris OAM,” 2019, by Jandamarra Cadd, Yorta Yorta/Dja Dja Warung peoples, Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra.

THE official portrait of Nova Peris, the first Aboriginal woman to become a federal parliamentarian and senator, was unveiled this morning (October 16) at Parliament House.

Created by Aboriginal artist Jandamarra Cadd, the portrait was commissioned by the Department of Parliamentary Services for Parliament’s Historic Memorials Collection.

In 2013 Nova Peris, a descendant of the Yawuru, Gidja and Iwatja peoples, was endorsed by the Labor Party as a senate candidate for the Northern Territory, becoming the first female Aboriginal parliamentarian and senator to serve in the federal parliament after she was elected to the Senate in the 2013 federal election. She retired from politics during the 2016 election.

Famous for her sporting achievements as a member of the “Hockeyroos”, Ms Peris became the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. She also won two gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

A Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Warung descendant, artist Dr Cadd is a graduate of Deakin University and holds an honorary doctorate in creative industries from Central Queensland University. He is the first Aboriginal artist to paint a portrait for the Historic Memorials Collection.

The collection was founded by Prime Minister Andrew Fisher in 1911, on the recommendation of artist Tom Roberts. Since then, it has commissioned portraits of the Head of State, Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Speakers and Presidents.

On occasion, as is the case with Ms Peris, the committee will commission a one-off portrait of senators and members whose election represents a significant milestone in the history of the Australian parliament.


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Helen Musa
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