Portraits of powerful women

Jana Vodesil-Baruffi with some of her paintings of prominent WA women.
Jana Vodesil-Baruffi with some of her paintings of prominent WA women.

Now her collection of paintings of women who have made a significant contribution to WA society will be open to the public in Northam from Saturday, August 31.

The paintings each capture a moment in the lives of 50 women, many from the WA Women’s Hall of Fame and include chief scientist Lyn Beazley, former business woman of the year Anne Russell-Brown, former premier Carmen Lawrence and lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi.

The Permanent Impressions collection was completed over 18 months.

Vodesil-Baruffi initially sketched and photographed the women, then gave herself 24 hours to create each work, using oil paints and a palette knife.

‘None of my work necessarily flatters the subject,’ Vodesil-Baruffi said. ‘I present them as they are.’

Vodesil-Baruffi was born in Czech Republic in 1957 and said she always enjoyed painting as hobby, but never had the freedom to own her own business.

In 1981, she escaped Czechoslovakia through Yugoslavia.

‘I couldn’t tell my family or my parents, when I was escaping none of my family knew,’ she said.

‘I wanted the freedom of choice and during the communist regime I couldn’t be a professional artist. You could not sell your own painting or have your own business.’

Vodesil-Baruffi said she had the choice of emigrating to Australia or the US. ‘I chose to come to Australia because living in a communist country taught you that everything American was bad,’ she joked.

The exhibition is at the town hall in Fitzgerald Street, Northam, from Saturday, August 31, to Sunday, September 8, from 10am to 4pm daily.