Den Fisher, Judy Moriarty and Celia.

Den Fisher, Judy Moriarty and Celia.

Well it’s a wrap. The Keys To Our Country Portraits have come down from the walls at Deloitte and been dispersed to their new owners around the country to keep creating positive conversations about Aboriginal Culture.

This project has been rich with learning, new friendships, greater empathy and the joy that comes from being engaged in something you believe in. There have been hopes raised and dashed too which feed the learnings of how to do better next time.

I had three objectives for the series. To acknowledge and say thanks to individuals who are teaching others about Aboriginal culture; to create more positive conversations about Aboriginal culture and to raise funds for Yalari.  It has been richly rewarding, exhausting and fun.

Again I would like to thank the participants. It takes guts to put your head above the parapet, to being singled out for honour, but every time someone does all of their pack feels the honour.

Bruce Pascoe Major Lancelot Sumner AM Waverley Stanley AM Deborah Cheetham AO Veronica Barnett Leila Gurruwiwi Tyrone Bean Tiffany Garvie John Patten Gina WIlliams Den Fisher Jamie Marloo Thomas

And thank you too for following the project and being part of it’s progress. My next series of portraits Leading Women’s Profile is focused on gender balance and was hung on the day these portraits came down - International Women’s Day 2019 March 8. It is up until April 8 and is almost all sold to raise funds for Bridge of Hope who help vulnerable youth.

I regularly catch up with Den Fisher for a coffee. It was his request to paint him after I said ‘I paint natives’ Meaning flora - oops) that got the whole project going. Den’s portrait with his keys pride of place is up at ‘3KND Cool n Deadly’ where he has worked as a DJ since the stations inception over 20 years ago. Den has some ideas for further artistic work together so the project could continue to grow in some form …

Gender Balance - Back your position with Data

Conrad Liveris released his Gender Equality at Work 2018 exploring the gender pay gap, sexual harassment and female education.

  1. There are more ‘Andrews’ leading ASX 200 companies than women CEO’s

  2. Female representation on ASX200 boards is at it’s highest level of 26.6%

  3. Women tend to run support functions 70% HR, 46% General Counsel, men hold 90% of business unit roles. 41 major companies have no women in executive management.

If you want to highlight a need for change first start with the facts.

The fact that in Australia we have only 12 Women CEO’s in the Australian Stock Exchange top 200 companies was the hook that got me started on this project. I then became aware of the research showing that companies with gender balance have better performing share prices. So there is compelling evidence for change. Despite the fact that female graduates outnumber males at record levels they can still expect to earn less than their male counterparts.

To champion change you will have to build a case. If you want to be able to quote the statistics of interest in your area have a look at these excellent resources.

Morgan Stanley’s research showing that gender balance is directly related to higher share prices -

Chief Executive Women take a census of women CEO’s and

many easy to read factual papers on women executive numbers and actions for change

Leading the Pack

A great thing about painting on site is the reactions of people passing by. The staff loved Marnie’s portrait. One women said “It makes me feel so proud.” Her organisations’ leader has been chosen to stand alongside Australia’s leading women and as a staffer she holds her head up with pride because of it. Marnie talks of coming from a dairy farm in Cohuna Victoria to let others know “Anyone can do it.” This raises a really important point about leadership.

CIndy Hook CEO of Deloitte Asia Pacific said to me that throughout her career she had been asked to do interviews as the first woman partner in the firm to achieve X, she said no, because she wanted to stand on her performance not have her achievements questioned because gender could have played a part. Now however, she realises she was wrong. Cindy now understands that standing up to take that leading role helps others, gives them role models, lets them know we can do it.

Dame Elizabeth Murdoch also learned this lesson after a lifetime of giving anonymously she could see that she had to go public in order to lead and encourage others to give.

In My family this is also a lesson. My Papa was the only man to win three Magarey Medals in a row (SA Football). Catholic’s were heavily discriminated against at that time. but I have met his peers who told me that when Papa was accepted and welcomed by every level of society - it changed their lives. They held their heads up high. He was playing footy, not being political in any way, but the result of giving his best and winning was shared by many.

AT the Bendigo Adelaide Bank Painting Marnie Baker the Managing Director

AT the Bendigo Adelaide Bank Painting Marnie Baker the Managing Director

Breaking through to the front of the pack takes a lot of consistent hard work and excellent performance. It can be hard to step up and take the lead, but as pack animals we need leaders. Remember to acknowledge those who stand up to lead.

In the Beginning ...

It was raining and I scored a lift home with Rob McGuirk from our friend Glenda Lindsay’s memorial service and after we had talked about the life of our inspiring friend he asked me, “What’s your next project?”.  My exhibition Keys To Our Country - portraits celebrating Aboriginal Australians who bring their culture into their work, was hanging at Deloitte in Melbourne (and still is) and going well, so the next project was brewing.  I explained gender balance was really important to me and I was thinking of painting women CEO’s to highlight the statistical fact that there are so few.  Rob, immediately thought of the Rotary Women’s breakfast and putting me in touch with it’s organiser Kerry Kornhauser and we started talking about likely candidates and ideas.  From a whim, to a spark, to excitement.

Ideas are just shells until life is breathed into them.  When you have friends who also love ideas, are doers, take risks to make things they believe in happen, it gets easier and more fun.  Glenda was one such person, so it is fitting that the idea for Leading Women’s Profile got going while thinking of her.

Later I explained to Kerry and Rob that I wanted to use the portraits to raise funds and as Kerry was associated with Bridge of Hope and I have years of experience volunteering in the homelessness space, it seemed a good fit.

This created the link between the most powerful and most vulnerable women, all experiencing greater challenges due to their gender. Twenty years as a communication facilitator means I like to have an impact, to inspire others to action and to get better outcomes. It is the same with my artwork.

The Herald Sun article from September 2018 explaining that the ASX200 had only 11 women CEO’s was a great statistic to get started with.  I began sending out invitations and getting the wheels turning.

The women CEO’s I have met so far have just been stand out lovely people.  Georgette Nicholas was the first to say yes and one yes means ‘it’s on’ so I am grateful for her open hearted commitment.  Each portrait will be painted against a blue sky, signifying endless possibilities. The paintings will be part of the Women in Rotary International Women’s Day Breakfast on March 7, 2019 and then go to Deloitte Melbourne to be exhibited at their client Centre at 550 Bourke St.  The portraits will be sold for $3000 to support Bridge of Hope’s - Bridging the Gap program that helps youth coming out of child protection and state care get on their feet.

Dedication - Marlene McAuliffe

I want to take this opportunity to explain who this exhibition is dedicated to and why.  Marlene McAuliffe was the best of friends to me for over 30 yrs, enfolding me into her family.  Marlene died in 2017.  She was a person who valued friendship; who listened; who was curious and loved beauty; who made each person she spoke to feel important and cherished; who made friends into family.  Those of us who new her know that we were lucky, that our lives are richer for it and always will be.

Marlene's spirit embodies what this exhibition is about. Being curious, seeking beauty, being willing to learn, to cherish and to welcome.

The Exhibition in NAIDOC at Deloitte 2-18 July

This time last year I had not even conceived of anything like this exhibition.  It is exciting to see  the exhibition up looking beautiful .  Tiffany came and photographed the portraits for the exhibition booklet and for the posters on each floor of Deloitte Melbourne that showcase the portraits and their stories. Clients at the Deloitte visitor Centre are giving great feedback.  People are learning more positive stories about Aboriginal culture in action today.

David, Anthony and Simon doing a great job of hanging Keys To Our Country for NAIDOC at Deloitte Melbourne L10, 550 Bourke St.

The portraits have the story of the  person painted posted next to them and a QR code so the viewer can watch the time lapse video of the picture being painted and listen to the singing of that person or music by Gordon Harvey and Aquiline.

As I have said before reconciliation is complex.  One part is recognition of history as it happened.  The part this exhibition focuses on is on applauding those Aboriginals who are helping us build stronger futures through bringing their culture into their work and being open to helping the broader community learn more about Aboriginal Culture.

I hope that more people will take an Aboriginal Heritage Tour at the Botanic Gardens, or the Museum, or seek out books like Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu to learn more about history as it happened.  Learning more about the land on which we live can have unexpected benefits.  Try it - you won't be disappointed.

My thanks to Deloitte for their generosity in hosting the exhibition and joining their RAP - Reconciliation Action Plan, with mine.  Special thanks to Adrian Gardiner and Rob Pluchinotta for their energy and great work in getting the exhibition up.  May their community actions go from strength to strength.

The paintings are for sale at 32Auctions.com/keys with the profits going to Yalari for Aboriginal Education.

Meta Tiffany - Tiffany photographing Tiffany photographing...

Meta Tiffany - Tiffany photographing Tiffany photographing...

Savouring the moment with Den's portrait just as we finished hanging the exhibition.

Savouring the moment with Den's portrait just as we finished hanging the exhibition.



We Are On Our Way

The launch of ‘Keys To Our Country’ was a moving and happy event.  Den Fisher presided with a smoking ceremony that gave the event gravitas – it drew people in to the meaning of the project – all Australians celebrating aboriginal heritage and being part of that culture.

Den’s portrait was unveiled and the project explained to the group assembled. It was very encouraging to hear the comments of support and well wishing.  All present were encouraged to sign up to the Keys to Our Country website in order to get updates as each portrait is done.  Each update will explain the work of that individual and help us all learn more and be able to create meaningful conversations around the strengths of Aboriginal culture. 

We all shared lemon myrtle muffins and tea and those congregated took away a Celia Moriarty Art 2018 calendar.

Do you know which Australian Artist won Gold medals in Melbourne, London, St Petersburg, Amsterdam, Calcutta, Denmark and Chicago?

No?  You are not alone.

The most celebrated Australian artist who was once a household name is not mentioned in today’s version of Australian art history.

Ellis Rowan – The Flower Hunter 1848- 1922

Ellis Rowan was consistently recognised for over 50 years as one of the best artists of any genre in international exhibitions and competitions - she was not seen by the international stage as a mere flower painter. 

I was familiar with some of her gentle botanical water colours but thought her a botanical artist who was a great adventurer.  However, as you look at her work particularly the New Guinea oil paintings that show the flower boldly bursting from the page, I saw my own work and what I am trying to achieve 100 years later – thinking it was new.  She worked as an impressionist producing a vast volume of work and was often compared to the new technology of photographs.

It is surprising that Heidi Museum did not include her in the recent exhibition with Georgia O’Keefe as Georgia's work is so like Ellis's. Ellis travelled extensively in USA for twelve years documenting flora and illustrated three books of botanical texts that Georgia may well have seen.

I am going to list some of her accomplishments here, just so you can see how extraordinary her achievements were as she travelled in outback Australia for months on end and through so many countries , deserts and jungles alike to capture her subjects on paper and canvas – in a corset, immaculately dressed with praise and respect (except from the male artists) from those around her.

Ferdinand Von Mueller the appointed Victorian Government Botanist and Director of the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens used the young Ellis Rowans paintings to identify unknown species, but her work was to gain international acclaim far beyond botany.

When the Melbourne Exhibition buildings opened in 1880, with exhibits from 30 countries, she took gold and silver.  To give you some context The Victorian Artists Society was outraged and protested to the international jury who later conceded a silver medal to Louis Beuvelot.  By 1900 Ellis Rowan was so well known in Australia that she was apparently a household name.

1883 Gold medals were awarded to Ellis Rowan in Calcutta, St Petersburg, Amsterdam and Denmark the following year.

1888 Ellis scooped the Centennial Art Exhibition Prizes.  Held at the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings and said to be the grandest ever held, it included every country in the British Empire as well as Europe, America and Japan.  A second silver award was given to Tom Roberts and third prize to Fred Mc Cubbin.  The male artists and Victorian Artists Society were again furious and called a meeting to contest the judgement.  You will be pleased to know that they were ridiculed for it by the international jurors.  Norman Lindsay was another male artist who ridiculed her work calling it "vulgar" as she was being sought and acclaimed internationally in a way these men could only dream of.

1889 Adelaide Jubilee Exhibition she one five firsts and Gold.

Here in her hometown Ellis was invited to paint 12 large panels for the Australian Club – a men only domain and other such hallowed turf as the Victorian Racing Clubs govenor’s dining room.

1893 World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago – entered 99 paintings and took Gold.

Queen Victoria collected three of Ellis Rowan’s paintings as well as other royal family members.  Lord Leighton, ex President of the Royal Academy attended her solo London exhibition in 1896 was also her fan.  With these two in her court London was enchanted by her Australian Wildflower paintings and Australia was in the news for something other than Ned Kelly..

Around this time the German Chancellor offered to purchase Ellis’s collection for 15,000 pounds and invited her to remain in Germany as it’s botanical artist. - she refused apparently on patriotic grounds.  Ellis then set off to America and the West Indies and collaborated on 3 books that became standard botany texts.

1901 Clausen’s Fifth Avenue Gallery showed 500 of her paintings of American wildflower paintings.

Kalgoorlie next, where her show of local flora was praised only to find that in Perth she was criticised as not local.

1916 at 68 Ellis set off to New Guinea and painted the flora and birds.  She lived in primitive conditions, bribing the locals to bring her birds.  They had to be caught to paint them.

“The large ones I tucked under my arm and held in that way while I painted them. Some were fierce and hard to hold… I covered the heads of others with handkerchiefs or table napkins to keep them a little quieter while painting the body.” I so often work from photos - so cushy!

Although the SA Gallery purchased 80 works, The National Gallery of Victoria holds 5, The QLD government bought 100 (Rowan gave them a gift of an extra 25) the purchase of her collection was debated in Parliament with Billie Hughes PM as her advocate, but the purchase was not made before her death in 1922.

I have been using her work to help me create depth in my paintings but did not realise that she had been feted as one of the great artists of the world for 50 years.  Shame on the art schools of today that miss the opportunity to show such an individual spirit, passionate adventurer, prolific documenter of nature and astoundingly creative talent.


2002, The Flower Hunter – Ellis Rowan , Patricia Fuller Published by the National Library of Australia

2009, Women of Flowers - Botanical Art in Australia from the 1830s to the 1960s, Leonie Norton Published by the National Library of Australia

Bella Flora - The Beauty of Nature Jan 15 - Feb 05 2017

What a great exhibition opening at St Michael's in Collins Street.  Kate Hudson who also works with Australian natives is a superb printmaker and our work was a great balance together. Many thanks to Erin and the generous community of Mt Michael's.  Included were the time lapse movies of me creating some of the paintings - just to add some fun.