Hawkesbury Regional Gallery acquires portrait of NSW Premier

A portrait of NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian MP, by renowned artist Salvatore Zofrea has been donated by the artist to Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in Windsor. The painting was a finalist in the 2014 Archibald Prize.

Zofrea has a long association with the Hawkesbury, and maintains a studio in Kurrajong. He has also generously donated a significant number of paintings to the Gallery, both landscapes and portraits.

He was drawn to paint the then Transport Minister, now Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, having seen her frequently in the media.

“She has a very striking appearance, marvellous bone structure and a very friendly smile,” Mr Zofrea said.

Ms Berejiklian sat for the artist in his Seaforth studio for one hour every Saturday, for seven weeks. Zofrea said he felt a great rapport with his subject: “She felt like one of my Italian family members”.

Born in Italy, Zofrea came to Australia in 1956, and is considered one of Australia’s most accomplished artists. In recent years his focus has been the beauty and abundance he sees in the Australian bush, and in 2003 Hawkesbury Regional Gallery staged a solo exhibition of his native flora and fauna paintings titled Days of Summer. However, portraits are an equally important part of his oeuvre.

“When the time came to paint her (Ms Berejiklian), I decided to draw on my experience in making woodblock prints – in other words, to use bold outlines, which conveyed her strength of character, unique features and her down-to-earth, practical approach to life,” he said.

“The light cobalt dress Ms Berejiklian selected for the sittings inspired me to choose a resonant lemon-yellow for the background. The sitter’s posture, leaning slightly forward in the chair, is indicative of her self-contained strength and strong sense of purpose. She seems to be listening intently to someone and giving them her full attention. This is what, in my view, gives the portrait its strength: her large, compelling eyes make direct contact with the viewer who is drawn into the portrait. The expression in those eyes is the heart and soul of the painting.”

The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett said the Gallery is proud to receive the artwork.

“We are very grateful to have acquired this wonderful painting,’ the Mayor said.

“Salvatore Zofrea’s name alone brings great honour to the Hawkesbury, and to acquire such a stunning portrait of a sitting Premier is tremendously exciting.”

The Premier has accepted an invitation to unveil the portrait at a function for Gallery members in November.

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