The Amazing Face: a 14-day dive into Portraiture

NPG Rob Palmer, The mahi-mahi, 2019 (detail)The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is offering a free online masterclass on the art of portraiture from Tuesday 28 April 2020.

Every day, for 14 days, iconic portraits from the NPG Collection will be highlighted, and curatorial contexts and artistic insights shared along with other interactive elements. At the end of the program, participants will be invited to use this knowledge to create their own portrait which they’re encouraged to share with their loved ones.

NPG Director Karen Quinlan AM said The Amazing Face was one of several new online programs to be activated whilst the gallery remained closed.

“Sharing stories about Australian life and people through the lens of portraiture informs everything we do, so animating our collection is always a priority,” she said. “But we have asked ourselves, during this really difficult time, how can we create new programs and activities that have the potential to enrich the lives of people who are at home.”

The Amazing Face was an idea we thought would appeal to those who are looking to spend their isolation time on self-improvement and self-care, through learning about art. It will be information rich, challenging, and also something people can look forward to every day,” said Ms Quinlan.

Families will now be able to access the NPG’s award-winning interactive HEADHUNT! – which was originally designed for children to use whilst in the gallery. From the end of April it will be available as a downloadable app, where children can take a virtual tour of the galleries, clicking on individual works to hear more about the subject, the artist, and to participate in various related interactive activities.

In addition, and for a bit of light relief, the gallery will launch Mo Show in early May, inviting those who are using their time of social isolation to grow beards, moustaches, muttonchops and bushranger beards to share their hairy hard work on Instagram. They’ll be highlighted alongside portraits of the similarly hirsute from the NPG Collection.

“We want to introduce as many people as possible to portraiture now that they might have more time on their hands, so we invite them to come and visit us online, and also share their stories with us, in a way that keeps us all connected through art and ideas,” said Ms Quinlan.

All can be found on Portraiture Comes Home – a new section on the website, which combines some of the best of NPGs online content alongside a suite of new digital programs. Included here is long-time favourite, Portrait Stories – a series of over 100 mini-movies showcasing the collaboration between portrait artists and their subjects. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Rob Palmer, The mahi-mahi, 2019 (detail) – Winner of the 2020 National Photographic Portrait Prize