Speaker…

I rise to acknowledge a resident in my electorate of Rockdale and an exceptionally talented individual. Pamela Griffith is an artist, a teacher and an inspiration to the Arts community and to the people of Rockdale. She, and her family before her are long time residents of the area.

Her paintings and drawings capture the essence of nation building and through her work Pamela has become part of that national building process. Barry Stern a renowned figure in the art world made the comment that Pamela ‘is an artist who is strong on determination. She is professional, sure of herself, but she also has the humility that reveals her quest for truth both as an artist and as a human being’.

 

Born into an artistic family, her grandmother, Lavinia Halpin was the only person to have painted the main street of Wollongong in the 19th century and this painting is now treasured by the Wollongong City Gallery.

Pamela trained as an art teacher at Sydney Teachers college and East Sydney Technical College and began teaching at a variety of institutions. She furthered her education by completing a Bachelors of Art degree at Alexander Mackie Art School  Since then she has had an enviable career presenting her works in over 150 exhibitions commencing in 1978. Over this period she has travelled the globe studying in places including but not limited to: England, Israel, USA, France, Hong Kong and the Galapagos. Her works are displayed in a variety of public, corporate and private collections including; The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The Federal and NSW Parliament Houses, NSW State Library;many Regional Galleries and St Ignatious and St Joseph's Colleges; the Vatican and universities such as Sydney, UNSW and Charles Sturt.

 

Her achievements are many:

She was commissioned by the Catholic Church in 1994 to create a ‘Toile’ or commemorative decorative fabric of Saint Mary MacKillop’s life. Pope John Paul 11 made particular reference to this piece when he visited the Powerhouse Museum during World Youth Day festivities in 1994 and he was presented with it by the children of Australia for the Vatican Collection. In 1988, for the Australian Bicentenary, Pamela was commissioned to design The Bicentennial Toile and also the Macquarie toile to mark the occasion. In 2007 she was commissioned by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to create an etching edition for the APEC conference. These 21 prints were presented to the visiting heads of states of 21 nations. Her best selling book, 'Australia, an artists journey through Australia' has been used as an official gift on many occasions at State and Federal levels. Many people in NSW enjoy the iconic waratah images that we find on the NSW drivers licences.

 

Over the weekend of April 13-14 Pamela held an exhibition at Tempe House when it, and St Magdalene's Chapel were opened to the public. Tempe House was built in 1836 by Alexander Brodie Spark on the southern banks of the Cooks River. It was designed by the famous architect, John Verge and is a rare example of an 1800’s villa that is still able to be appreciated in its landscape setting. It has recently been restored by Australand. The exhibition and associated museum display was opened by Dr Robert Brodie Sparks, a direct descendant. Pamela has said that the object of the exhibition was to make people aware that this outstanding colonial building was made to display art and was a cultural mecca long before Sydney had an art gallery, and once again Tempe House could become a centre for the arts in Rockdale. The exhibition was a resounding success with over 1000 people in attendance. Various individuals and groups who attended have taken the opportunity to book functions in the building into the future.

 

I would also like to note that Pamela has been a pioneer for safe practices in art manufacture as artists have to deal with a range of toxic chemicals and hazardous materials. Pamela has made a conscious effort to reach the public, particularly teachers, to ensure that they work in properly ventilated environments as well as adequately covering parts of her body that would ordinarily come into contact with dangerous toxins and or materials.

 

We are privileged to have people of the calibre of Pamela in our community. People like Pamela Griffith enrich our cultural environment when they share their vision through their work. Their art enables us to have pride in our local area and as Australians. Madame Speaker we should all be very proud of our creative community. Art is an important part of any civilised culture and unfortunately is often not fully appreciated. Through art people tell their story and provide a diverse way of interpreting the world they live in.  Pamela Griffith’s pictures and paintings capture what it is to be an Australian in the 21st century. Record crowds attended the two major regional gallery exhibitions of her work that paid tribute to the outstanding contribution she has made to printmaking and in particular to etching. These two tribute shows held at Sutherland's Hazelhurst Gallery and Arts Centre in 2005 and 2010 are landmarks in her career. The exhibition at Tempe House attracted the same interest for people in the Rockdale area.

 

Professor Joanna Mendelssohn from the College of the Fine Arts UNSW says ‘Pamela Griffith is an artist whose work follows a great tradition, the tradition of craftsmanship and technical excellence which she applies to her decidedly contemporary work. In painting, drawing, printmaking and design she strives for work which is both artistically satisfying and technically masterful. Pamela is an acknowledged teacher much in demand. Her disciplines cover oil and acrylic painting, watercolour, portraiture and printmaking’.

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