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Gen uses portraiture to tell the stories of artists and other everyday people, believing that everyone deserves to have their portrait painted and their story told.  Gen's contemporary egalitarian approach to portraiture differs from that of historical portraiture when portraits were made of people who had power, wealth, and often both: these people already had a strong sense of agency.  In contrast, Gen deliberately use portraiture to tell the stories of people who do not necessarily have a voice or a platform but who are fascinating nonetheless.

No judging (me and my curlew gang), 2020, oil on linen, 106.9 x 106.9 x 3.3cm

I much prefer to paint portraits than self-portraits, but the COVID-19 isolation period of 2020 provided a challenge in terms of acquiring sitters. The obvious solution was to paint a self-portrait and to push through any discomfort.  This work has many personal resonances:


It is about looking, seeing, and not seeing - there are seven literal and five metaphorical eyes staring out at the viewer.


It considers the human tendency to judge others by what we can see rather than what we can learn about the person – the painting’s title refers to the colloquial expression “no judging”, which paradoxically is often accompanied by a judgement.


It features the bush stone curlew, the native Australian bird with which I feel a curiously strong affinity. Curlews are birds of camouflage – during the day people often walk right by them, not even noticing them, but they are there.


It is a coming-of-age portrait – I was 50 at the time of the sitting. As I journeyed through the painting, I came to better accept all my wrinkles, sags and imperfections.


It has an art-historical reference – this time to Albrecht Dürer and his beguiling Self-portrait at Twenty-Eight (1500). My painting can be read as a subtle re-gendering of this iconic work, swapping Dürer’s ostentatious fur coat for my egalitarian denim jacket.

The portrait is just larger than life-size and introduces a rich burnt orange as the background colour.

"You appear calm and self-assured but not confrontational.
I sense a vulnerability in you."  
Visitor, Pop Gallery 2022
"A lovely, rich, engaging work."
Antoinette O'Brien
Winner Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize 2020
No judging (me and my curlew gang) inten

No judging (me and my curlew gang), 2020, oil on linen, 106.9 x 106.9 x 3.3cm

This work was chosen as a finalist in the biennial 2020 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize at Lismore Regional Gallery 

Portrait of Elizabeth Kingston (textile artist and social media influencer), 2019
oil on Belgian linen, 102 x 77 x 3.3cm

For this project, I painted the portrait of Elizabeth Kingston.  Elizabeth is a Brisbane-based textile and visual artist and friend, who formerly ran her own clothing design label.  Nowadays, she is a social media influencer and stylist for mature-aged women: using her body as a site for performance, Elizabeth transcends the everyday into the extraordinary.  Elizabeth makes many of her own clothes, as well as upcycling existing garments and thrifting.  She co-designed and created the upcycled ensemble she wears in this portrait with friend and fellow Brisbane-based clothing designer Darin Rose.


Formally, I used even greater clarity and an even more saturated palette with the introduction of a soft gold. The portrait is just larger than life-size.

Portrait of Elizabeth Kingston (four-way

Portrait of Elizabeth Kingston (textile artist and social media influencer), 2019, oil on Belgian linen, 102 x 77 x 3.3cm

Centenary series, 2018, oil on Belgian linen, sizes variable, four portraits

For this project, I painted the portraits of four women working in various sectors of the arts in Brisbane. I appropriated the poses and support dimensions of portraits by Gustav Klimt and reflected on what has changed and what has stayed the same for women since Klimt died one hundred years ago.  All participants were required to wear a dress of their choosing. For this series, I used higher clarity and a more saturated palette at life-size.

Bronwyn as Emilie_Centenary series.JPG
Genevieve as Helene_Centenary series.JPG

Genevieve as Helene, 2018, oil on Belgian linen, 61 x 40.5 x 3.3cm

Genevieve works in fine art and music and wears a dress sourced from a Brisbane op-shop

Bronwyn as Emilie, 2018, oil on Belgian linen, 183 x 83 x 3.3cm

Bronwyn works in film and television post-production. 

She wears a vintage dress sourced in London from her time working there

Ingrid as Mada_Centenary series.JPG

Ingrid as Mada, 2018, oil on Belgian linen, 152 x 111 x 3.3cm

Ingrid works in fine art, illustration, theatre and music. 

She wears her signature denim jacket and a dress she made herself

Margi as Sonja.jpg

Margi as Sonja, 2018 -19, oil on Belgian linen, 122 x 122 x 3.3cm

Margi works in theatre, artist counselling, university tutoring and academia.

She holds her PhD thesis and wears a dress sourced from Mexico where she has a network of colleagues

Pictures of you series, 2017-18, oil on unstretched linen, 65 x 55cm approximately, 18 portraits

I am interested in the representation of everyday people - I believe that everyone deserves to have their portrait painted. For this project, I painted the portrait of everyone in my painting major cohort using a diffused pastel palette and sfumato technique at an oversized scale.

Pictures of you (Jenna), 2018

Pictures of you (Sean), 2018

Self-portrait (woman as art object), 2017, oil on canvas, image 40.5 x 30.1cm, framed 64.3 x 49.1cm

Self-portrait (woman as art object).JPG

I often bring this work back into my rolling project The semiotics of the dress as this is the work that seems to have most succinctly captured the problem of gender labels and gender discrimination.  This self-portrait is frequently read by gallery visitors as male, despite the presence of a breast.  Humans are driven to categorise each other visually as 'male' and 'female', yet human gender experience exists beyond these boundaries, and has always done so.

Self-portrait with lanterns (the real me), 2015, block print, graphite, watercolour and acrylic on paper
image 35 x 40cm, framed 42.5 x 42.5cm

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