Honouring women in leadership in the Council Chamber

photo-icon Former Lord Mayor of Adelaide Wendy Chapman

Following the acknowledgement of the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in South Australia in December 2019, Council has committed to further honour the leadership and achievements of the women of Adelaide.

The Council Chamber is currently undergoing a re-curation process and as a part of this process, a new series of portraits have been commissioned. The portraits will provide an opportunity to celebrate women who have made a significant and unique contribution throughout history to the present day.

From early October 2020, we will share each new portrait as they reach completion, and prominent portraits of women in leadership grace the walls of the Council Chamber.

Wendy Chapman

The first portrait to be commissioned is of former Lord Mayor, Wendy Chapman AM. Wendy Chapman (born 1942) was the first female appointed Lord Mayor of Adelaide in 1983, making history as the first woman to hold the position in any Australian capital city.

Former lord mayor wendy chapman portrait queen adelaide room small

She completed one term, stepping down in 1985. Chapman also served the City of Adelaide as an Alderman between 1981-1983 and was a trained nurse and company director. She represented the City of Adelaide on the Adelaide Convention Bureau Board of Directors, the Local Government Association of South Australia and served on the Jubilee 150 Board.

As part of an alliance of State Government, Local Government and big business, Chapman lobbied for Adelaide to secure the rights to host the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, which raced throughout the city between 1985-1995. She later served on the Australian Formula One Grand Prix Board.

Chapman was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 1986 for service to local government and to the community.

About the artist

Tsering Hannaford has been commissioned to paint the official portrait from a historical photograph of Wendy Chapman AM that celebrates her time as Lord Mayor between 1983-85.

Hannaford is a celebrated young female artist who lives and works in Adelaide. She has been shortlisted several times in the Archibald portrait exhibition, was presented with the highly commended Portia Geach Memorial Award in 2014 and was a semi-finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

She has undertaken many significant portrait commissions and has a reputable career as a realist portrait painter. Her father is a renowned South Australian painter, Robert Hannaford, from whom she first learnt her craft.

Dame Roma Mitchell AC, DBE, CVO, QC

The second portrait to be commissioned is of pioneering South Australian Dame Roma Mitchell (b. 1913 – d. 2000) which was unveiled on Thursday 2 June 2022 by Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia, and Lord Mayor of Adelaide Sandy Verschoor.

Dame roma mitchell unveiling

Image: Kate Kurucz, Dame Roma Mitchell, AC, DBE, CVO, QC, 2022, oil on canvas, 90cm x 70cm (framed), CC003313, Civic Collection. Photography by Clark Rodda, Festival City Photography

Dame Roma Mitchell was admitted as a barrister in 1935 and became Australia’s first woman appointed to Queen’s Counsel in 1962. Three years later she became a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the first woman in Australia to hold that position.

Again, when Mitchell became Chancellor of the University of Adelaide in 1983 (serving until 1990), she was the first woman in Australia to fulfil this role. Then, in 1991-1996 she was Governor of South Australia, and was again the first woman to be governor of any Australian state.

Mitchell campaigned for equality nationally, advocating for women to have the right to sit on juries, and for equal pay for equal work for women.

In 1996 the City of Adelaide awarded Dame Roma Mitchell the Key to the City, and in 1999 unveiled a commemorative sculpture of her in Prince Henry Gardens, North Terrace, to celebrate her great achievements.

About the artist

Esteemed painter Kate Kurucz is based on Kaurna Land, South Australia, was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Dame Roma Mitchell, as the artist expressed, “It was a true honour to have the opportunity to create Dame Roma Mitchell's portrait and I felt the full weight of that responsibility as I painted,”

“From all accounts and with the help of those who knew her, I also learnt what kind of person she was beyond the professional achievements, and of all the wonderful qualities that inspired such loyalty and admiration. Working from a black and white image was a fascinating challenge and I felt so enmeshed in her life and legacy as I spent hours observing her face. As my way of offering another layer to the portrait I included on the book spine the Latin phrase "Floreat Scientia" - Let Knowledge Flourish - and images of the flower Black-eyed Susan, which represents justice, and the Sturt Desert Pea - the emblem of South Australia; the state upon which she had such an indelible impact.”

The artist graduated from the Adelaide Central School of Art in 2012. She has exhibited broadly in group and solo exhibitions around Australia, including the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Art Gallery of Western Australia

Kurucz was awarded the Royal South Australian Arts Society Portrait Prize in 2020.and the Emma Hack Art Prize in 2016, as well as being shortlisted as a finalist in many prestigious national portraiture prizes.