Angus McDonald

Dr Ann Lewis AO

oil on canvas
Read label text

Dr Ann Lewis has played a prominent role in the Australian art world for over 40 years. Between 1964 and 1983 she ran Gallery A in Sydney where she represented artists such as John Firth-Smith, Ann Thomson and Michael Snape to name a few. She was an inaugural member of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council (1973–76) and was at the forefront of the push to give Australian Indigenous art prominence.

In 1972 she was also appointed as a member of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, becoming a vice-president in 1993. Lewis was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2009 for her service to the visual arts and continues her support as an art collector and patron.

Angus McDonald, who has long-admired Lewis, was introduced to her by his London dealer, Rebecca Hossack in 2009 and was hugely taken with her ‘positive outlook, her energy and passion for life, her generosity and great sense of fun’.

‘About three years ago, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer yet she has confronted this with the same matter-of-factness with which she approaches everything. In deciding how to approach the portrait I wanted to focus on her inspiring, irrepressible attitude,’ says McDonald.

‘Before Ann was diagnosed she was a very imposing, strong, charismatic figure. This still exists unchanged though the treatment – which is brutal – has affected her appearance in certain ways. But when you look into her eyes there is no frailty there, which is why I have focussed on her face and eyes.’