Claire Eggleston on Richard Larter

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

Richard Larter

Five in a row show

1969
synthetic polymer paint on five composition board panels
Gift of Frank Watters 2018. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Richard Larter. Licensed by Copyright Agency

I remember the first time I encountered Richard’s portraits of Pat. I was shelving exhibition catalogues (call number A759.994 L335 for the Dewey-curious) in the Gallery’s research library. Flicking through the pages of a Watters Gallery catalogue, there was Pat, legs akimbo, baring all. My youthful feminism was piqued by what I assumed was Richard’s exploitation of his wife. Not so, I was soon to learn.

I was introduced to Pat more fully through her archive, where I found a woman very much in control of her own image. A woman who was not only a wife, muse and mother, but an artist in her own right. An artist who challenged representations of female bodies, sexuality and desire with a sense of humour, generosity and enthusiasm. And this is what I see now, when I look at Five in a row show.

Claire Eggleston is the Gallery’s senior librarian and a karaoke tragic. She is co-curator of the exhibition Pat Larter: Get Arted (opening 14 November)

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