Double delight for Alice portrait artist


Dr Al Strangeways’ prize-winning portrait “Rolf’s Paper”. This is a portion of the work.

Dr Al Strangeways’ prize-winning portrait “Rolf’s Paper”. This is a portion of the work.

A Charles Darwin University lecturer’s portrait of an academic colleague has won two prizes in the Senior Portrait of a Territory art competition in Darwin.

Dr Al Strangeways’ oil painting “Rolf’s Paper”, of Northern Institute Professor Rolf Gerritsen, has won the Senior Portrait of a Territorian Acquisition Award and the People’s Choice Award.

It is the third time that the self-taught weekend artist has won the acquisition award, worth $7000 this year, and the fifth time she’s won the $1000 people’s choice prize.

A delighted Dr Strangeways said the painting had been her way of encapsulating the image of someone who continues to make a significant contribution to Central Australia with his economic commentary and research.

“I wanted to capture a particular expression of Rolf’s that you might sometimes see at a research seminar when he’s about to make an astute yet provocative comment,” Dr Strangeways said.

“The expression speaks of a sense of irony, or wry wit, or of a quirkiness to his character; it is part of what makes him the researcher he is.”

Dr Strangeways said the text in the background of the portrait was taken from the “Blackfellas and Whitefellas” paper that Professor Gerritsen co-wrote in 1982.

“It was a striking paragraph in a controversial paper; one of the earliest encounters I had with Rolf’s writing.”

Dr Strangeways said the oil on linen work began with a 70-minute sitting in her rural block studio.

“I prefer to be a slow and deliberate painter. It took up my weekends over a couple of months,” she said.

Dr Strangeways said she had already started on her next work, an official portrait of former chief minister Paul Henderson, which is destined for Parliament House in Darwin.

“This will fill my spare time for the next few months or so,” she said.

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