Jennifer Herd - Warrior Woman #1
2022 Sylvia Jones Award for Women Artists
Proudly supported by
Clem Jones Foundation
About the artwork and sitter
This is a character filled portrait of Jennifer Herd, a Mbabaram artist from FNQ who lives and works in SEQ, and a leader of ProppaNOW.
Pat Hoffie says of the work: “For several decades both of us taught at QCA, where Jen headed up the BOVACIA program (the first, First Nations Tertiary Arts course taught by First Nations people). Ours has been long and strong friendship. She has often pushed others to the front, taking the ‘back seat’ as she nurtures careers and guides futures.
“She is an under-sung hero, a woman who is prepared to ask the tough questions – and that’s what I’ve done my best to capture – her wonderful hands open in a plea for better recognition as she looks you straight in the eye.”
About the artist
Pat Hoffie AM is a Brisbane artist who exhibits nationally and internationally. Her practice includes painting, installation, assemblage and sculpture. She left her position at the QCA in 2016 to work full-time on her own practice. Griffith University awarded her the title of Professor Emeritus.
This large, powerful and commanding painting engages the viewer very directly. It’s a portrait of Pat Hoffie’s colleague and collaborator Jennifer Herd, a major Indigenous artist and teacher, and you immediately understand that here is a woman who embodies resilience.
It is a larger than life portrait which looks to have been executed quickly. The brush strokes suggest brave, bold and immediate gestures, applied over skilful underpainting and competent use of colour.
So whilst it’s a very good example of gestural portraiture, it also creates a great kind of luminosity and energy, with Jennifer Herd holding out her hands, clearly beseeching us, in a moment of direct engagement. This is not a self contained work sitting politely on a wall. This is speaking to us and saying; Well, what now? What do we do now? And this has to be the question that perfectly embodies the current social and political context around First Nations voices on the national stage.
The idea of water is conjured in the background, with Hoffie activating the surface to break the picture plane, or even scratching and scraping through. A similar treatment has been applied to Herd‘s clothing, so you’ve got a sense that she’s moving the paint around the contours of this extraordinary leader’s body. But of course, the most powerful aspects are her beseeching questioning hands and that intense and commanding gaze.
Assistant Director, Artistic Programs Art Gallery of South Australia
Chief Judge 2022
About Sylvia Jones
The $5,000 Sylvia Jones Prize for Women Artists is proudly supported by The Clem Jones Foundation
Sylvia Jones (1909-1999) performed many different roles and made a significant contribution to the City of Brisbane as Lady Mayoress during her husband Clem’s record term as Lord Mayor from 1961 to 1975.
Noted for modernising the city — especially its road, transport, water, sewerage, and community and sporting infrastructure — the administration led by Clem Jones also helped to develop and expand Brisbane’s cultural life with Sylvia as Lady Mayoress playing an active and leading role.
Clem and Sylvia Jones both took a personal interest in Brisbane’s cultural life and development.
As Lady Mayoress, Sylvia established the Brisbane City Council’s historical and arts collection, and encouraged and lent her support to Brisbane artists and their exhibitions.
She also chaired numerous charity fundraising events including the Lord Mayor’s Charity Ball and the Lord Mayor’s Command Performance.
Sylvia Jones had a deserved reputation as a gracious and approachable woman who, as Lady Mayoress, entertained with diplomacy and style, and was a notable ambassador for the City of Brisbane wherever she went.