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Katherine Hattam Helen Garner speaks French

collaged book pages, charcoal and gouache on linen canvas

151.3 x 214 cm

Across her acclaimed literary career, Helen Garner has written fiction and non-fiction, including novels, true-crime books and short stories. She is also a screenwriter and journalist. Her first novel, Monkey grip, published in 1977, is now recognised as a classic.

Katherine Hattam, a first-time Archibald finalist, is a friend of Garner’s.

‘In her books, Helen creates a niche from which to write about contemporary life; a space between fiction and non-fiction. For her, the personal, the psychological and the domestic are the trusted lens through which she sees the world,’ says Hattam.

‘In a different way, I too have created a niche, an in-between space from which to combine painting, drawing, text and collage.’

‘Helen and I have spent time in one another’s kitchens. It was while visiting her house for our first sitting that I saw the form for this portrait. Observing her having a cup of tea, looking directly ahead, confident and engaged, one arm on the table as chooks pecked outside the curved window, I knew how I should depict her.’

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