John Brumby portrait

John Brumby, premier 2007-10
Title Premier John Brumby
Artist Juan Ford
Date 2012
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 1300 x 1000 x 70 mm

Premier 30th July 2007 – 2nd December 2010.

John Mansfield Brumby was born on the 21stof April 1952 in Melbourne. Educated at Ivanhoe Grammar School, The University of Melbourne and the Victorian State College (Rusden), he began his career as a secondary school teacher in Eaglehawk. In 1980 he left the classroom to work for the Victorian Teachers’ Union and in 1983 successfully ran for the seat of Bendigo in the federal House of Representatives. Brumby lost his seat in the 1990 election and subsequently worked as a consultant to the banking and finance industry, and as an advisor to Allan Griffiths, Federal Minister for Resources and Tourism.

In February 1993 Brumby won the by-election for Doutta Galla in the Victorian Legislative Council and shortly after became leader of the opposition. He resigned from the Council in August 1993 and successfully ran for the Legislative Assembly seat of Broadmeadows in September 1993. Brumby’s task was to rebuild the Victorian Labor Party after the 1992 election loss. As leader of the opposition, he also held a number of shadow ministries including Treasury, Arts, Agriculture, State and Regional Development and Primary Industry. In March 1999 Brumby resigned as opposition leader due to pressure from party factions and Labor’s new leader Steve Bracks led the party to victory in the September 1999 election.

Brumby served as Treasurer and Minister for Regional Development and for Innovation during Bracks’ government. When Bracks resigned in July 2007, Brumby became the 45thPremier of Victoria. Achievements of the government during his premiership include construction of the new Royal Children’s Hospital, a desalination plant, the north-south pipeline, the establishment of four River Red Gum National Parks and the Abortion Law Reform Act. Brumby’s premiership coincided with the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires. The government responded by establishing a Royal Commission into the disaster and the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund that raised $379 million to support affected communities.

At the December 2010 elections Labor was defeated by a Liberal National coalition lead by Ted Bailleu and Brumby resigned from Parliament on the 21st of December 2010. His career since has included government, business and academic board appointments including that of Chairman of the Council of Australian Governments Reform Council.

The Artist and the Portrait

Juan Ford b. 1973 –

Artist Juan Ford was born in Melbourne and studied at RMIT University in Melbourne, graduating in 2001 with a Masters of Fine Art. He has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally including over 25 solo exhibitions and participation in over 80 group exhibitions. He has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and prizes including the 2010 Basil Sellers Art Prize - People’s Choice Award, the Australia Council Studio Residency in Rome, the 2004 Fletcher Jones Contemporary Art Prize Winner, and he was a finalist in the 2012 Archibald Portrait Prize.

Ford is well regarded for his portraiture and commissioned portraits include: Ms Sylvia Walton AO, Latrobe University Chancellor, Professor Jeremy Ellis, Chancellor Monash University, Professor Andrew Coates, Sydney University Deputy Vice Chancellor and Professor Richard Larkins AO Monash University Vice Chancellor. His work is included in significant collections including the National Gallery of Victoria and private collections worldwide.

On painting John Brumby, Juan Ford commented:
‘Meeting John Brumby for the first time, in the hallowed Stranger’s Corridor, was a pleasant experience. From the very beginning I found him likable and hospitable. He is approachable and affable, while undeniably possessing a first-rate intellect. Our subsequent meetings and portrait sittings became occasions I looked forward to with anticipation. He is easy to work with, and engaging company.

Going back and forth from my small and sometimes untidy studio to the Victorian Parliament and Treasury buildings was certainly an exercise in contrast. However, what could have been a daunting experience was instead an inclusive one. I was able to sense that in contributing this portrait, I was in my own small way contributing to Victoria. This understanding underscored what a rare privilege having an artistic practice can be.’


© Juan Ford