you need a subscription to view this film: subscribe - education only

Wendy Sharpe Paints the Life of Annette Kellerman

Year: 1999, 30 mins
Code: COO-Wendy

  • Description
  • About the Artists
  • Embed / Share

This film takes you into the mind of artist Wendy Sharpe as she creates Australia's largest mural for Sydney's new swimming centre, Cook and Phillip Park. The mural, made up of seven panels, tells the story of swimming legend Annette Kellerman's extraordinary life.

‘She was someone who was always ahead of her time and avoided all the constraints that were put upon women at the time. She was born in Sydney in 1886, and when she was young she could hardly walk and wore braces, and she used swimming to change her life.’

‘In 1902 she became so fit she started winning races. In 1905 she swam down the Thames and then swam the English Channel in a tiny bathing suite, followed by a long distance swim down the Seine in Paris. Half a million people watched her. She was the only woman and she came third.  She had become a champion athlete and in 1907 she was arrested in Boston for wearing a tiny costume. In America she became known as the Australian Mermaid and she became world famous for all the things she did. In 1914 she went to Hollywood and made a series of silent movies exploiting her swimming talents and became very famous as a movie star, and was described as the most beautiful woman in the world and compared with Venus de Milo’

Wendy Sharpe’s work  of Annette Kellerman’s life was commissioned by Sydney City Council for the new swimming complex at Cook and Phillip Park in the centre of Sydney and is the largest mural ever painted by an Australian artist. Sharpe has remarkable drawing and painting skills. She is a past Archibald winner and one of Australia’s most respected artists.

About the filmmakers:

Director – Richard Mordaunt

Producers – Richard Mordaunt, Kim Mordaunt, Diana Barbara
Richard Mordaunt
is one of Australia’s most experienced documentary film-makers with 40 years experience producing feature documentaries in Australia and the UK. Throughout the 60s and 70s, using the first lightweight cameras, he photographed and directed award winning documentaries in the UK. House of the Rising Sun, Voices, Sweet Soul Music, Ireland Behind the Wire, Seeds of a New Life.

In 1979 he moved to Australia with his partner Diana Barbara and they continued to make documentaries for the Australian and International market. 

Wendy Sharpe is one of Australia’s most awarded artists, she lives and works in Sydney and Paris. She has been awarded The Sulman Prize, two Travelling Scholarships, The Portia Geach Memorial Award (twice), The Archibald Prize, and many others. She has been a finalist in The Sulman Prize twelve times, and The Archibald Prize six times. She has held over 59 solo exhibitions around Australia and internationally.

Major commissions include, Olympic pool size mural for Cook and Philip Park Aquatic Centre, Sydney, a commission by the Australian War Memorial, as an Australian Official Artist to East Timor (the first woman since WWII). She has a great interest in the performing arts. This ranges from commissions working with The Australian Ballet and the Australian Opera, to working with burlesque performers , drag shows and an Artist residency with Circus Oz. 

She travels frequently and has also been awarded many International artist residencies in Paris (twice), Egypt, Antarctica (twice), Mexico and China. Her latest residency is with the State Library of NSW.


Share this video

Start at (H:MM:SS) and end at (H:MM:SS)


Embed this video

Start at (H:MM:SS) and end at (H:MM:SS)