A portrait, a likeness, a characterisation – drawn, painted, created. They fascinate me and I say this because I have two portraits, each given to me as a gift; one to mark the end of some work and the other to celebrate a birthday.

Twenty years ago I received my first portrait. The artist, an eminent scientist, drew sketches of my face when we both sat on a Government Task Force. I never asked why I was his subject but he did confirm that the meetings were not that boring!

That portrait, in oil and on canvas is vibrant and striking. The scientist/artist explained that it was based on the inner energy that I transmitted and the aura shapes that I had created during the meetings. To see my energy translated into deep colours of yellow, green, blue and red moving dynamically from my neck to hair made me stop and think. I reflected on the times that we met during 18 months of deliberation and I hoped that each occasion was positive.

This month, I received my second portrait from an extremely talented 16-year-old artist called Matthew. I have known Matthew for many years and during this time I have seen him experiment with his drawing technique using coloured pencils and more lately watercolours.

Unlike my scientist/artist, Matthew drew his sketches from photographs of me that he found on the MSL website. He worked in watercolours on paper and used hues of yellow, white and red to make a statement about me. When I asked about his choice of colours, Matthew talked of my soft voice, smiling face and gentle personality.

M portrait

Having one portrait provides insight. Having two portraits is to be cherished.

By Maggie Semple

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