Paul Newton (b. 1961), Stephen Shane Parry (detail), 2017, Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection.
After the term of each presiding President of the Senate in the Australian Parliament, a portrait is commissioned by the Historical Memorials Collection (HMC) Committee.
The President of the Senate is the presiding officer who chairs meetings of the Senate. They are also the spokesperson of the Senate, representing it in dealings with the Governor-General, the executive government, the House of Representatives and people outside the Parliament. They also have responsibilities for the administration of the Senate and the management of Parliament House. The President is elected to this position by members of the Senate
Former Senate President Hon Stephen Parry was elected as a Senator for Tasmania in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010 and 2016. He served as Senate President across two Parliaments from 2014 until 2017.
For his portrait Parry and commissioned artist Paul Newton agreed on an outdoor scenario, featuring the façade of the Parliament House and the Australian flag. This was a departure from the interiors, often within the chambers, preferred for portraits in the HMC. Instead, Parry is depicted gazing out over the environs of Canberra, a metaphor for his vision of the future of parliament, and his position in parliament. Commenting broadly on the portrait’s composition, his position and the commission, Parry says,
I liked the idea of the actual whole parliament. Because parliament is important to me, more so than each chamber …. I like the fact that the parliament is prominent not just me… It’s a great honour to know you are going to be hung in the seat of democracy in this country.
Newton has been a finalist in the prestigious Archibald Prize on twelve occasions and has won the Archibald Packing Room Prize twice. This is his third commissioned portrait for the collection, including former Senator the Hon Paul Henry Calvert, former Speaker the Hon Peter Slipper.
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