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Book inspires paintings of the women behind Ned Kelly

A series of paintings currently on exhibition at Arts Space Wodonga were inspired after the artist heard a radio interview with the author of a book about the incredible life of Ned Kelly’s mother, Ellen Kelly.

Artist Janet Goodchild-Cuffley was inspired to paint the series after hearing Noelene Allen talk about her book Ellen: A Woman of Spirit.

Janet’s subsequent paintings form Furious Riding: The Kelly Women Narratives, an exhibition that challenges the usual male-only perspective of the Ned Kelly story.

Each of Janet’s paintings tells a story that vividly conveys the lives of these Victorian colonial women of the late 19th century – resourceful and resilient women who were way ahead of their time.

They raised children alone, ran farms and businesses, endured great hardship and great grief – and were not afraid to take on a system that was stacked against them.

The lives of these women were amazingly eventful. Some may know that Maggie and Kate Kelly, excellent horsewomen, evaded watchful police to deliver food at night to their brother’s gang, but who knew that Ellen Kelly sued for child support (of an illegitimate child) and won – in 1871?

Janet has generously referenced Sidney Nolan’s famous telling of the saga through her continuation of the narrative painting tradition. Where Nolan painted the Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringybark Creek, Janet has told of the intense grief of The Widow Kennedy.

Remaining events at Arts Space Wodonga as part of the exhibition include Artist talks with Janet Goodchild-Cuffley: Saturdays, August 19 and 26, at 2pm.

The exhibition runs until Saturday, August 26.


Last updated: 11-08-2017

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