Allie Eagle

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1949, d.2022

Self Portrait

  • 1974
  • Graphite on paper
  • Purchased 2012
  • 785 x 545mm
  • 2012/015

Allie Eagle was a leading figure in Aotearoa New Zealand’s feminist movement of the 1970s. She had an acute awareness of current international trends in feminist art, and as an artist and curator she strove to give women more presence in the national art discourse – which was dominated by men. Alongside her own art practice, she curated exhibitions such as Woman’s Art: Six Women Artists (1976) and Olivia Spencer Bower: Retrospective (1977), bringing attention to a generation of emerging artists as well as the achievements of senior women artists, at a time when the focus was strongly on male artists.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • [We do this, 12 May 2018 - 26 May 2019] (

    In 1974, Allie Eagle was working as exhibitions officer at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch’s former public art gallery. She produced Self Portrait at home after a day at work installing an exhibition called Six New Zealand Artists. The exhibition, which featured work by young expatriate New Zealand artists of Eagle’s own generation, had been well received in London and reassembled for a New Zealand tour. It included no work at all by women. “The scales were tipped for me”, Eagle commented, “as I drew this self portrait. […] My anger fed the drawing’s sense of ̒being left out’. I was outraged that all of my generation of women artists and the older generation were being excluded from being studied or celebrated.” Eagle went on to organise important exhibitions of women’s art, as well as produce works dealing with critical social issues including abortion rights, mental health treatment and homosexual law reform. Her major artistic contribution has been to represent her lived experience in a way that encourages empathy and personal identification from others, and which – like Self Portrait – makes visible the exclusion of women in particular from full participation in society.

    (We do this, 12 May 2018 - 26 May 2019)