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Contemporary art


Asian art

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Native women of South India



Pushpamala N.


1956 -

Clare Arni


1962 -


Three of the images in this series, including the one of the artist posed as Lakshmi, the goddess of plenty, are based on images by the famous Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906; first prize winner at the Vienna Art exhibition 1873, and a symbol of India’s adaptation of Western painting conventions). Another image references the colonial British obsession with ethnographic documentation, specifically an infamous project of a series of photographs of aborigines of the Andaman Islands by Maurice Vidal Portman c.1893 in which natives were placed against a black and white checked background to facilitate anthropometrical measuring. The original series (in the British Library) reflects anthropological studies in the nineteenth century when there developed an obsession with the rigid examination of the physical characteristics of racial distinctions in the subcontinent.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, April 2010.


Place where the work was made




Media category


Materials used

a,b,c,d,g,h,i,j: type C photograph e,f: gelatin silver photograph


a - Cracking the whip, 55.8 x 37.4 cm, image

a - Cracking the whip, 61 x 50.7 cm, sheet

b - Returning from the tank, 55.8 x 34.4 cm, image

b - Returning from the tank, 61 x 50.7 cm, sheet

c - Lakshmi, 55.8 x 34.4 cm, image

c - Lakshmi, 61 x 50.7 cm, sheet

d - Flirting, 55.8 x 42.2 cm, image

d - Flirting, 61 x 50.7 cm, sheet

e - Toda, 55.4 x 42.2 cm, image

e - Toda, 61 x 50.7 cm, sheet

f - Criminals, 37.1 x 55.8 cm, image

f - Criminals, 50.4 x 60.9 cm, sheet

g - Lady in moonlight, 55.8 x 43.8 cm, image

g - Lady in moonlight, 61 x 50.7 cm, sheet

h - Yogini (The Green Yogini), 55.8 x 43.8 cm, image

h - Yogini (The Green Yogini), 60.6 x 50.6 cm, sheet

i - Circus, 37.3 x 55.8 cm, image

i - Circus, 50.7 x 61 cm, sheet

j - Our Lady of Velankanni, 55.8 x 37.4 cm, image

j - Our Lady of Velankanni, 61 x 50.7 cm, sheet


David Jones Fund 2010


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Pushpamala N.

Works in the collection


Artist information

Clare Arni

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Jackie Menzies, Look, Love in India, pg 12-13, Sydney, Oct 2014, 12-13 (colour illus.). Illustration is of 81.2010.h ( Yogini) only

Pushpamala N. and Clare Arni, Native women of South India: manners and customs, 'The native types: a series of photographs illustrating the scenery and the mode of life of the women of South India', pgs. 25-45, Bangalore, 2004, 25-45 (colour illus.).

Chaitanya Sambrani, Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India, New York, 2004, 70-75 (colour illus.). cat.nos 11b, 11d, 11a, 11e, 11i, 11h. Edition unknown.

Natalie Seiz, Look, 'Bold moves', pgs. 54-55., Sydney, Jul 2018-Aug 2018, 54 (colour illus.). Illustration is of 81.2010.a (Cracking the whip).