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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Fred Hilmer, 2018

by Evert Ploeg

Fred Hilmer
Fred Hilmer, 2018 Evert Ploeg. © Evert Ploeg

Fred Hilmer AO (b. 1945), economic policy and reform strategist, was the chief executive officer of John Fairfax Holdings from 1998 to 2005 and vice- chancellor of the University of New South Wales from 2006 to 2015. Hilmer graduated in law from the University of Sydney and undertook further law studies at the University of Pennsylvania before winning a Joseph Wharton Fellowship and completing his MBA at the Wharton School of Finance in the late 1960s. He published his first books, When the Luck Runs Out and New Games, New Rules in the 1980s and was awarded the John Storey Medal from the Australian Institute of Management in 1991. From 1989 to 1998 he was a professor of management in the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales, of which he later became dean and director. In the early 1990s he chaired the National Competition Policy Review Committee, which led to far-reaching reforms in competition policy, and was a member of the Higher Education Council. Meanwhile, he began his long corporate involvement, over the course of which he has served as a director of TNT, Coca-Cola Amatil, Port Jackson Partners, McKinsey and Company and Macquarie Bank; chair of Pacific Power; and deputy chair of Foster’s Brewing Group and Westfield Holdings Ltd and related companies. More recently, he has chaired the Group of Eight Universities (Go8) and Universitas 21. His writings include Strictly Boardroom: Improving governance to enhance company performance (1993, 1998), The Fairfax Experience: What the Management Texts Didn’t Teach Me (2007), as well as the co-authored Management Redeemed: The case against fads that harm management (1998) and Working Relations: A fresh start for Australian enterprises (1993).

Evert Ploeg

‘It was Fred’s quote to me, “I go through the written material and the first thing I do is take out the adverbs and adjectives.” As such, I proposed a geometrical and measured portrait, with textured shades of warm and cool greys, considered shapes and contours placed with purpose. Mirroring Fred’s mantra of “not what you put in but what you leave out”, I edited the background, removing all the “unnecessary” until the focus on Fred was immediate and direct. The end result: striking, elegant, sophisticated and most importantly … uncomplicated.’

Evert Ploeg (b. 1963), began his career as a commercial illustrator in the mid-80s. He received wide attention in 1997 when he attempted to enter the Archibald Prize with a portrait of Bananas in Pyjamas, which was later purchased by the ABC. His portrait of Deborah Mailman, now one of the most popular paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, won the Archibald Prize People’s Choice Award in 1999, as did his portrait of George Ellis in 2007; his portrait of Jana Wendt earned him the Packing Room Prize in 2004. In 2005 he won the Shirley Hannan Portrait Prize and also his first International Award at the Portrait Society of America International competition, in which he garnered further awards in 2011 (Best of Show), 2012 and 2017. He has also achieved repeated success in that society’s annual members-only competition, including a First Place in 2017 and life-long ‘Signature Status’ in 2018. In 2010 he was part of the BIGhART stage production Namatjira, painting portraits of leading actor Trevor Jamieson on stage. Four years later he participated in another BIGhArt project, Blue Angel, spending seven days aboard an oil tanker painting crew members. Long-listed in the BP Portrait Award in London in 2015 and 2016, Ploeg was one of ten artists to compete in an Alla Prima Portrait Competition at the Grand Central Academy in New York in October 2015. With works in many private collections around the world as well as one in the Australian War Memorial and five in the University of Melbourne, Ploeg now has six portraits in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Commissioned with funds provided by Dr Helen Nugent AO 2018

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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