Jenny Sages was born in Shanghai, China, to Russian parents. Her family migrated to Australia in the 40s when she was a teenager.

After studying at the Franklin School of Art in New York she returned to Australia where she worked as a freelance illustrator and writer, mainly in fashion and travel, for various magazines including Vogue.

It wasn’t until the early 80s, when she went on a trip to the remote Kimberley ranges in Western Australia, that her career in fine art really began.  It was there that she fell in love with the people and landscape of the Australian outback and she began her career as a full time painter.

It was the beginning of annual trips to remote communities of the Northern Terrirtory and Western Australia where she became friends with aboriginal artists including those amongst Australia’s most famous – Emily Kngwarreye and Gloria Petyarre.

Sages not only paints the Australian landscape but is also an acclaimed portraitist and creates intricate abstract works.

Apart from winning the Wynne prize for landscape painting she was awarded the Portia Geach prize for portraiture twice and the Archibald People’s Choice award.  She was also selected as a finalist in the Wynne, Archibald and other prizes many times (a staggering 20 times for the Archibald) and she’s been the subject of several documentaries.  The National Portrait Gallery also held a touring exhibition of her portraits in 2011.

Press play above to hear our conversation which is on the Talking with Painters podcast.

To see Sages talk about her current work in progress and to see inside her studio have a look at the short video posted on the Talking with Painters YouTube channel here.

Links to things we talk about on the show:


‘My Jack’, 2011, encaustic oil and pigment on board, 120 x 170cm

JSages.jpg.505x317_q85‘After Jack’, 2012, encaustic and pigment on board, 120 x 190cm


‘It’s all in the doing of it’ 2016, encaustic, pigment and oil on board, 30 x 20cm



‘Emily Kame Kngwarreye with Lily’, 1993, oil on canvas, 213.5 x 182.5cm Collection: National Portrait Gallery


Untitled (Study for ‘Emily Kame Kngwarreye with Lily’) 1993, charcoal on paper, 30.4 x 22.8cm Collection: National Portrait Gallery


‘Gloria Tamer Petyarre’, 2005, encaustic, oil and pigment on board, 80 x 244cm


‘The blue one’ 2016, encaustic pigment and oil on board, 30 x 25cm


‘Each morning when I wake up I put on my mother’s face’ 2000, 150 x 100cm


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