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Jimmy and Jane Barnes highlight National Portrait Gallery's Australian Love Stories

Jimmy Barnes and his wife Jane Barnes were photographed by nephew Jesse Lizotte as part of the National Portait Gallery's newest exhibition. Picture: Keegan Carroll
Jimmy Barnes and his wife Jane Barnes were photographed by nephew Jesse Lizotte as part of the National Portait Gallery's newest exhibition. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Jimmy Barnes can tell you the exact moment that he met his wife Jane.

"1979. It was the 22nd of November at 4 o'clock in the afternoon."

The Aussie rocker was performing at the Australian National University when the pair first met. He was 23 and she was 21. Jane, a former Canberra Girls Grammar student, attended the university and after the gig, both she and Jimmy were invited to a friend's place.

"I was trying to be on my best behaviour, trying to impress Jane and I thought was doing very well," Jimmy said.

"And then she said, 'By the way, your taxi is here'. I said, 'I didn't order one'. And she said, 'Well there's one with your name on it outside'. Luckily, I got to see her the next day."

He later found out Jane had been the one who called the taxi for him.

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"Obviously, I wasn't on as good of behaviour as I thought," Jimmy laughed.

The pair's love story once again found itself in Canberra on Thursday when the National Portrait Gallery unveiled the newly commissioned portrait of the couple, as part of the Australian Love Stories exhibition that opens on Saturday.

Taken by their nephew Jessie Lizotte, the photograph features the couple lying in a bed of roses collected from both their garden and their daughter Mahalia's garden.

Jessie Lizotte with Jimmy and Jane Barnes. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Jessie Lizotte with Jimmy and Jane Barnes. Picture: Keegan Carroll

"The three baskets from our garden weren't enough for Jimmy," Jane said, before Jimmy added: "I'm a bit excessive."

Australian Love Stories highlights love, affection and connection in all its myriad forms and permutations.

Drawing on artwork from the National Portrait Gallery's collection and other public and private collections around Australia, the exhibition uses contemporary portraiture to share more than 80 real-life love stories.

"I think we were lucky. We found each other and it took time for us to sort of really grow into each other," Barnes said of his and his wife's love story.

"We just loved each other's company but we were in different worlds, from different worlds.

"There have been moments where our lives have overflowed because I've been so blessed. She has such an incredible family and I became part of this extended family as well. I inherited the family, too, which was just fantastic."

Along with the portrait of the Barneses, the gallery also commissioned a portrait of Australian journalists and broadcasters Stan Grant and Tracey Holmes.

Partners for more than 20 years, the setting for their new portrait, taken by photographer Nic Walker, was the Yarrangobilly River in the Snowy Mountains: a place connecting Mr Grant's Wiradjuri heritage and Ms Holmes' link to her Chinese forebear, who settled in the area.

Tracey Holmes and her husband Stan Grant were photographed by Nic Walker for the exhibition at the National Portait Gallery. Picture: Keegan Carroll

Tracey Holmes and her husband Stan Grant were photographed by Nic Walker for the exhibition at the National Portait Gallery. Picture: Keegan Carroll

"I think it's amazing how Nic went and selected this place that was important to both of us," Ms Holmes said.

"He's managed to photograph us in a way that we actually blend into the landscape. We blend into the country and I think that is beautiful and amazing.

"I think what's interesting also was that Nic found this place that was at the foot of the mountains. I'm very much a water person, Stan's very much a land person. And this is taken at the side of the river."

  • Australian Love Stories is at the National Portrait Gallery from Saturday. Tickets from portrait.gov.au.

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This story How Barnesy fell Stone Cold for wife Jane in Canberra first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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