Artist Shirlee-Ann Knight inspired by great WA women


Ann Knight with her portrait of Donna Cross.
Ann Knight with her portrait of Donna Cross.

THIS year – and for the next four – Curtin University lecturer Shirlee-Ann Knight will enter a portrait of an influential Australian woman in Australia’s most prestigious portraiture competition, the Archibald Prize.

She was inspired when she noticed female painters painting women were under-represented on the winners’ list.

“In the past 20 years two women painting portraits of women have won the Archibald Prize,” she said.

“The idea of painting five portraits in five years was a big enough goal to motivate me to complete it and to do a better painting each year.”

In two weeks’ time Dr Knight will send a completed oil on canvas portrait, 160x85cm in size, to Sydney.

Her subject is Shelley resident and Telethon Kids Institute professor Donna Cross.

Dr Knight said Prof Cross was an easy choice for a first subject.

“She meets the criteria of someone I admire and has had an impact,” she said.

“She is extraordinary in her ordinariness, she is motivating and captivating and she is very supportive and kind for someone so busy.”

Dr Knight achieved an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts 26 years ago and despite lecturing in information systems, she has continued with art.

She said her style had been described as photo-real, but she had not set out to adhere to one particular style.

“I’ve just tried to capture her, to capture the worker,” she said.

“I did this to challenge myself and I am challenged – it’s so different to anything I’ve done.”

Dr Knight said she was looking forward to taking on the second subject.

“I haven’t decided who the next person will be; it will just have to be a woman who inspires me,” she said.