In 2021 Angela Brennan’s painting Self portrait 1998 entered the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art as a gift from the artist’s husband Will Barrett.
Self portrait 1998
oil on linen
183 x 122 cm
Gift of Will Barrett, Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, The University of Western Australia
Courtesy Niagara Galleries
The portrait is one of an occasional series made by Brennan through the 1990s of friends and colleagues from the Melbourne art scene. Subjects included artists Louise Forthun, Geoff Lowe, Tony Clark and Elizabeth Newman (the latter with her partner Michael), and curators Naomi Cass and Robyn McKenzie.
The portraits are characterised by a relaxed atmosphere and a frequent sense of play, either in the poses or painterly approach. In her self portrait, Brennan stands casually with her baby on her hip, a study in reds and pinks. Only on second look does the viewer notice, on the ground at her feet, Brennan’s spectacles, presumably knocked off by her butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth baby boy. Through this gentle and humorous detail Brennan subtly suggests the extent to which a child can be a mixed blessing to a woman artist.
The painting was a finalist in the 1998 Portia Geach Award at the SH Ervin Gallery. In 2006 was included in Brennan’s survey exhibition Angela Brennan: Every morning I wake up on the wrong side of capitalism at Monash University Museum of Art, and in 2016 in the exhibition Parenting is political at Bus Projects, Melbourne.
We would like to thank Angela and Will for this very generous gift and their ongoing support of Sheila Foundation and the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art.