My beloved Brisbane - Sir Leo Hielscher
2019 Packers Prize
About the artist
Tom Macbeth is a self-taught Brisbane artist working in oils. He focuses on photorealistic portraits and has been a finalist in the Archibald, the Black Swan and the Kennedy Prizes. He has enjoyed sittings with many prominent people including Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. MacBeth believes that given a portrait in oil will last for hundreds of years, it is important to maintain a timeless quality to the piece, otherwise it’s value to the viewers will be lost over time. In that way, he says, “my portraiture seeks to not only capture a detailed and exacting likeness of the subject, but for that likeness to capture their character and personality. A more traditional approach combined with modern design aspects creates a piece that can not only be enjoyed today, but for generations to come”.
About the sitter
Sir Leo Arthur Hielscher has been acclaimed as one of the key figures responsible for transforming Queensland’s economy over the past fifty years culminating in a fitting tribute in 2010 when Brisbane’s largest piece of infrastructure, the Gateway Bridge and its newly constructed duplicate, were renamed the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges. Sir Leo spent much of his career in Treasury serving under a multitude of Premiers and was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship in 1973, a Knight Bachelor in 1987, an Honorary Doctorate of Griffith University in 1993, and a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2004. The Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges are depicted twice in this portrait.
The packers chose the portrait of Sir Leo as it was painted with a clear admiration and appreciation for the subject.
This warmth and feeling resonated almost in spite of the precise and detailed brushwork that showed off Tom Macbeth’s great technical skill.
We thought it fitting to award our prize to such an impressive painting of a subject who has been so integral to the development of this city and state.
Brisbane Portrait Prize Director