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Parliament's portrait of a woman by woman

14 September 2017 3:01 AM
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In her own words, Anna Burke is as artistic as a dead chook.

So it's just as well the former House of Representatives Speaker enlisted Sydney artist Jude Rae to paint her official portrait for Parliament House.

It's the first in the official collection of a female subject by a female artist.

Ms Burke, who was a Deputy Speaker and Speaker during the tumultuous hung parliament from 2010 to 2013, made the journey back to Canberra on Thursday for the official unveiling, but for only one reason.

"Let's just be brutally honest about this: I wouldn't be here unveiling it if it wasn't for my mother because she really wanted it to happen," she said.

Ms Burke shunned the traditional robes for her sitting and revealed how hard it was to stay in one spot for so long just looking out a window.

"My children think I look too severe in it but I think (Jude) was trying to give me gravitas," she said.

Ms Burke, who won five elections for Labor in the Victorian seat of Chisholm before stepping down at the 2016 poll, described herself as the accidental MP.

"I did think I'd be a one-termer. I never thought I'd last long enough to actually end up with a portrait in the place."

She credits her family and her children - who were born during her time in parliament - for making her career possible, which resulted in her becoming the second female Speaker of the lower house.

"I get the portrait but they did all the hard work, as did Jude because I'm as artistic as a dead chook so if it have been me painting the portrait it would have looked terrible."

Her friend deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said the pair saw each other through some tough times, especially raising children from afar.

"I can tell you kids that when she wasn't there she was thinking about you all the time," she said to Ms Burke's children, tearing up.

Ms Plibersek talked up her colleague's achievements including on the Do Not Call Register and her role in the stem cell debate, revealing she did it all with a reading difficulty.

Ms Rae, who won the Portia Geach Memorial Award for Portraiture in 2005 and 2008, said it was a privilege to paint Ms Burke.

Also read: ‘No’ voter fires back after getting the sack

Source: theaustralian.com.au

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