Art and science have combined to create the latest addition to Australia’s National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.
A portrait of prominent University of Queensland scientist Professor Mandyam (Srini) Srinivasan, by Archibald Prize winner Sam Leach was unveiled in the gallery today.
Professor Srinivasan has spent a lifetime studying how animals such as birds and insects navigate through environments, and applying that knowledge to robotics and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Queensland Brain Institute researcher said it was an honour and a privilege to feature in National Portrait Gallery.
“Sam Leach is not only an exceptional portrait artist, but also has a great affinity for animals and is very good at depicting them as well,” Professor Srinivasan said.
Mr Leach won both the Archibald and Wynne Prizes in 2010, making him only the third artist to win both prizes in the same year.
The artist said he was drawn to the portrait through his work toward a PhD that includes the history of portraits of scientists.
“When I was approached to undertake this commission I was thrilled to learn about Srini’s research and achievements that have enriched our understanding of the non-human world and are helping to build our understanding of the technological world,” Mr Leach said.
“The most important consideration was to make a portrait that included some reference to the physical aspect of the research that Srini undertakes, and he expressed an interest in being portrayed working with his team.
“This represented an interesting problem for a commissioned portrait of an individual, so I made a reference to the collaborative nature of scientific research by including an additional hand at the left of the portrait.”
QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett said the portrait was a fitting tribute to Professor Srinivasan’s work.
“It captures the intellectual enthusiasm, observant curiosity and technical brilliance central to Srini’s outstanding scientific achievements,” Professor Bartlett said.
Professor Srinivasan is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society and has won the Prime Minister’s Science Prize and the Royal Institute of Navigation Harold Spencer-Jones Gold Medal award from Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh.
The portrait was commissioned with funds provided by Mrs Marilyn Darling AC, a founding patron of the National Portrait Gallery, and is included in the gallery’s Uncommon Australians: The vision of Gordon and Marilyn Darling exhibition.