LOCAL TALENT: Sue Harm with the portrait she painted of Lena Kane hanging at Gayndah Art Gallery.
LOCAL TALENT: Sue Harm with the portrait she painted of Lena Kane hanging at Gayndah Art Gallery. Felicity Ripper

Local artist brings fond memories to life

HER eyes twinkle and her smile beams with all the warmth we remember, it would be easy to mistake the portrait of Lena Kane, hanging in Gayndah Art Gallery, as a photograph.

Capturing Miss Kane's kind spirit, Gayndah artist Sue Harm took home first place in the Oils and Acrylics section of Gayndah Art Gallery's biennial art competition at the weekend.

A long-lived local of Byrnestown and Gayndah, Miss Kane passed away on April 30 of this year at 100 years old.

Mrs Harm said it was Miss Kane's beautiful personality and long life that inspired her to paint the portrait.

"Even at 100 years old she had that child-like spirit and she was humble, open and generous to everyone she came across,” Mrs Harm said.

"In the photographs that I looked at, taken around her 100th birthday, the beautiful landscape of her face showed the terrific life she led.”

Mrs Harm was a child when she first met Miss Kane.

She has fond memories of meeting up with the avid church-goer at services and always being given a warm welcome.

"Lena was complex in that she was frail, delicate, sincere and loving...but for a little lady she was quite a tower of strength,” Mrs Harm said.

"It was hard to come up with a title for the portrait but I settled on Reflection because of the reflection in her eyes and glasses but also because all of us who knew Lena were reflecting on her life at the time the photo was taken, during her 100th birthday celebrations.”

Mrs Harm explores a range of genres with her art but has been drawn to portraits in recent years, often focussing on significant people who have touched her life.

"I guess it's a way of holding onto them,” Mrs Harm said.

"It is a memory, but in a way they do come to life.”

Competition judge Fiona Groom said she was drawn to the portrait as soon as she walked into the room.

"She pulled me in straight away because it was so well executed and it was soft and inviting,” Mrs Groom said.

"Looking at the portrait, I knew she (Lena) had stories to tell.”

Gallery coordinator Susie Capewell describes Mrs Harm's portraits as photorealism.

"I especially love how Sue included the blue in Lena's hair because that's how we remember her at her 100th birthday,” Mrs Capewell said.

Mrs Harm has taught visual art across Queensland for 35 years, and now teaches in her home town of Gayndah at Burnett State College.

The portrait can be viewed at Gayndah Art Gallery.