08 Oct, 2020

City of Adelaide honours first female Lord Mayor

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The City of Adelaide is honouring its trailblazing female leader, former Lord Mayor Wendy Chapman AM, with a stunning portrait painted by Tsering Hannaford to hang in the Council chamber.

Wendy Chapman was the first female elected Lord Mayor of Adelaide in 1983, making history as the first woman to hold the position in any Australian capital city.

Mrs Chapman also served the City of Adelaide as a Councillor from 1977, 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.

Mrs Chapman was the inaugural chairman of the South Australian Tourism Industry Council and lobbied to secure the rights for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, which raced throughout the city between 1985-1995.

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

Current Lord Mayor of Adelaide Sandy Verschoor, only the third female to hold this position in 178 years, said that the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in South Australia in December 2019 created momentum to more proactively honour the leadership and achievements of women within the City of Adelaide.

“Historically, the City of Adelaide council chamber has had no representation of female leaders through its civic collection artworks. In fact, the only female in the council chamber is a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The existing collection has primarily paid tribute to the contributions of men who were of significance to the city and state since its inception."

"We want to celebrate the women who have made a significant and unique contribution to the city by raising their profile and showcasing them within the Adelaide Town Hall, specifically in the council chamber."

“South Australia has a national reputation for being a leader when it comes to gender equality. Wendy made history as the first woman to hold the position of Lord Mayor in any Australian capital city and that should be acknowledged in the chamber in which we sit. This portrait celebrates her time as Lord Mayor between 1983-85.”

Mrs Chapman said, “I am extremely proud to have been honoured with the Council choosing to have a portrait painted to be hung in the Council Chamber.

“Queen Elizabeth has graced the chamber for many years, and I am humbled to be the next woman to join the gallery.”

The artist commissioned to paint the portrait, Tsering Hannaford, is a celebrated artist who lives and works in Adelaide.

Tsering has been shortlisted six 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.

Tsering has undertaken many significant portrait commissions and has a reputable career as a realist portrait painter, and is the daughter of esteemed South Australian painter, Robert Hannaford.

"My intent for the portrait was to portray the warm and approachable character of Wendy Chapman as well as capture important details of her mayoral dress and Order of Australia medal," said Tsering.

"The portrait will hang in an historical collection, so the piece needed to suit the realistic style of neighbouring portraits, while maintaining a contemporary element."

"The green-hued background brings a warmth and simplicity to the portrait, allowing the robes, medal and Wendy's expression to take centre stage."

"The portrait was commissioned to increase representation of female leaders throughout the City of Adelaide's civic collection artworks. With a focus on examining the experiences of women and highlighting inequalities between the genders in my own work, I am honoured to have been approached for this piece which helps bring balance to the city's collection."

The City of Adelaide has a public art collection that is made up of commemorative monuments, sculptures and installations, with a growing collection of contemporary artworks that help to tell the story of the city both past and present.

To find out more about the city's public art and where you can see it, go to Public Art.

For more information

Paula Stevens