Celebrity heads in Bega portrait exhibition

Juanita Phillips and her dog Gidget, painted by Geoff Lonergan for the 2014 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award.

Juanita Phillips and her dog Gidget, painted by Geoff Lonergan for the 2014 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award.

SHAUN GLADWELL WINS $50K AWARD

EACH Shirley Hannan exhibit has a scattering of celebrities among the striking faces in the gallery and 2014 is no exception.

Media celebrities this year are Andy Lee and Hamish Blake from Channel Nine’s Gap Year, in separate entries, and ABC newsreader and journalist Juanita Phillips, painted by Geoff Lonergan.

“I found being the subject of a portrait a really interesting experience," Ms Phillips said on being a subject and her reaction to the finished work.

"Like most people, I assumed it was all about the painting and the technique, but in the first sitting, Geoff helped me understand it was more about capturing some sort of 'essence' about someone and to do that you need to get to know them, and what makes them tick.

"He wanted to create an image that was completely different from my public, TV persona, which, by its nature, tends to be artificial and contrived.

"After a bit of gentle interrogation, he uncovered the fact that, after my family and work, the most important thing in my life is my yoga practice.

"My dog, Gidget, comes in pretty closely behind that, which is how she managed to nose her way into the portrait.

"So we settled on a simple lotus position for the portrait, in a room which is flooded by north-east sunshine.

"Months later, when Geoff unveiled the portrait, I admit I was shocked.

"In my industry, every image is airbrushed to perfection, so to see myself super-sized without the armour of TV make-up and styling was quite confronting.

"Gidget meanwhile looks like she’s stepped straight out of a celebrity photo shoot – so unfair!

"It’s a little uncomfortable knowing people will be getting a close-up view of a more realistic 'me', but there’s a lesson in that too, I guess.

"I think Geoff is a terrific artist, and he’s certainly been very truthful – I just wish he’d gilded the lily a bit and taken a decade or two off!”

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