History in the making

Queensland College of Art lecturer Dr Julie Fragar made history this week with the unveiling of her official portrait of Queensland’s first female premier, Hon Anna Bligh AC.

The stunning oil portrait is the first painting of a female premier to hang in Queensland’s Parliament House.

Dr Fragar said she was “honoured” to be chosen to capture Ms Bligh for posterity.

“I believe Anna asked QAGOMA Director Chris Saines to draw up a shortlist of female, Queensland-based artists,” she said.

“She was familiar with my work from an exhibition at GOMA, and I think we share a similar aesthetic.

“The fact that she specifically wanted to work with a young, local female artist is really inspiring.”

Dr Fragar worked with Queensland College of Art photography graduate Louis Lim on a series of photographs of Ms Bligh which were used to create the stunning oil painting.

“It was a really long process – I can’t imagine anyone, let alone someone as busy as Anna sitting for a portrait over that length of time, so the photos were a great reference.”

Dr Fragar said that her signature layered paintings allowed hidden details to be revealed on repeat viewings.

“I think Anna was attracted to the idea that we could embed certain things in the painting that pointed to her achievements while she was in Parliament.

“My paintings are layered, so there are subtle references to milestones like the construction of the Kurilpa Bridge, the floods, her advocacy for women, education reforms and her incredible legacy of support for the arts.

“The more people look at this piece, the more things are revealed.”

Dr Fragar recently won the $15,000 Ramsay Art Prize People Choice Award.