Not only is Godwin Bradbeer a brilliant and highly regarded artists, but he is an inspirational and much loved teacher.
Less well known is his gift for writing poetry. It was his poem “the raven” which sparked my imagination, and helped me to solve the conundrum of his portrait.
I set out to paint Godwin as a full figure, slim and agile, waving his hands expressively as he talked about his art. But the more time I spent with him, the more I became fascinated with his thoughts and ideas, his art and poetry; his creativity. These things come from a stillness within.
So I chose to paint Godwin in profile, his eyes not engaged with the viewer, but staring into the screen inside his mind. I used the raven, as a metaphor for the moment of artistic creation..............out of the darkness comes the light.
It was serendipity that I met Kin Ma; I happened to see a poster for his watercolour course and volunteered. We quickly became friends.
‘Heart’ is one of the first Chinese characters I learned from Kin, and it aptly describes him. He radiates a quiet calmness, a mixture of compassion and confidence, which belies the turmoil he has faced in his life.
Of Chinese heritage, Kin grew up in Saigon. He was conscripted into the South Vietnam Army and endured the unimaginable trauma and hardship of fighting in the Vietnam War. At the end of the war he was imprisoned in a communist labour camp. Escaping by boat from Vietnam he landed in a Malaysian refugee camp, finally arriving in Australia as a refugee.
Kin developed courage and strength from adversity. As a community mental health worker facilitating day to day living programs, he taught others to do the same.
In my portrait of him, the watercolour layers flow across his face like a veil, alluding to his time in the war. The salt patterns reminiscent of the ravages of the elements on the surface of ancient boulders over millennia.
Heart Kin Ma watercolour on canvas
People's Choice Hidden Faces of the Archibald, People's Choice Splash McClelland 2019
The arrival.......of the raven Godwin Bradbeer watercolour on canvas
People's Choice Hidden Faces of the Archibald
Do you see what I see? Jarrod de Wind oil on canvas
This painting was a gift from Gerry de Wind to his wife Priscilla, and is a portrait of their son Jarrod at 17.
Jarrod is unable to clothe himself, or walk unaided, but when I visited him in 2010, his sisters Andrea and Erin were there to help. They told me he loves to swim in the pool, where he can stand on his own. He is unable to speak, but laughs as his brother Damian whispers jokes in his ear. He sways and smiles to the music of the Wiggles then looks across and captures me in his gaze. He radiates a calmness and serenity so surprising in someone whose life has been full of incredible challenge.
By painting this portrait of Jarrod, I learnt a lot about courage and caring, but mostly about love.
Gerry and Priscilla’s statement:
“It would be any parent’s perfectly natural reaction to ask why and to do everything possible to find that miracle cure. As time unfolded we began to accept that this was how things were meant to be…
Jarrod is a gentle and loving soul who is truly at peace and content...He interacts with the whole family enjoying the fun and laughter that goes on when we gather.
Jarrod is the epitome of innocence and the embodiment of our family values and faith.”
People's Choice Hidden Faces of the Archibald 2011 Finalist Black Swan Portrait Prize 2011
Howard and Denice Anderson have been friends of ours since before we were married, when Howard and my husband John ran a building design practice together. Howard’s architecture is filled with light, fascinating spaces and unexpected details. He is also an artist, and commissioned me to produce a large work for their recently completed house. His brief to me ran something like this:
3 panels - 120cm x150cm each. On the left, seen first as you walk through the house, an abstract design, conveying something of the house interior. In the middle, a representation of the garden, possibly with figures in it, and on the right, hung closest to the north facing window, a depiction of the bush that adjoins their block. The paintings should in some way connect to the light and the outdoors.
I began the project as an exercise in abstraction. Compositionally, each painting is intended to stand alone, but in order to tie the three separate ideas together, I visualized a giant origami, with diagonal overlapping sheets of paper representing shards of light, the left end folded over into a white rectangle, the house. As I progressed, it developed into a portrait of Howard and Denice, and of many things we share in common: a love of art, design, gardens, the Japanese aesthetic, light, birds, and the patterns of nature.
Looking in on the Andersons………elements of a friendship
The intention of this commissioned portrait was to create a likeness of Kate and her new baby Scarlett, but also reflect on the universal theme of motherhood.
The arrival of a first baby, whether planned or not, creates enormous upheaval in a woman’s life. When I met Kate and Scarlett, I expected a certain amount of nervousness and chaos….I remember back to my first days as a new mum. But although Kate had not had an easy time, with feeding and digestive problems for Scarlett and very little sleep for herself, she was remarkably cheerful and composed. Not showing any of the signs of an awkward or self-conscious first-time mum, she sat in her armchair radiating serenity and contentment and a deep love for this tiny being tugging at her breast.
As I sat watching them, the light falling diagonally from the window, I was reminded of the Madonna and child images from the Renaissance. I decided to elevate this every-day, contemporary scene of mother and child, to an iconic level, to highlight the preciousness and importance of this time together.
The arrival of Scarlett Raven Kate Hewson and baby Scarlett Raven Hewson