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Margaret Fink
, 1989

by Kerrie Lester

oil and mixed media and hand-stitching on canvas (frame: 195.5 cm x 124.0 cm, support: 194.0 cm x 123.0 cm)

Margaret Fink (b. 1933), film producer, was a key figure in the renaissance of Australian cinema in the 1970s. Born in Sydney, she became associated with the Sydney Push while working as a high school art teacher in the early 1950s and around this time, inspired by friends such as Clive James and Barry Humphries, decided that she wanted to make films. ‘That was an unusual decision for anyone in Australia, boy or girl’, she recalls. She married businessman Leon Fink in 1961, placing her creative ambitions on hold while raising her three children. In 1971, she saw a production of David Williamson’s The Removalists in Kings Cross and decided to make a film of it, despite having very little training or experience in film. With a cast including Jacki Weaver, Kate Fitzpatrick, and Chris Haywood, The Removalists appeared in 1975. The film established Fink as a ‘hands-on’ producer who worked closely with her director. Her collaboration with young director, Gillian Armstrong, on My Brilliant Career (1979) launched the careers of both Armstrong and its lead actor, Judy Davis. The film won Best Picture at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards in 1979. Fink also produced For Love Alone (1986), based on the novel by Christina Stead, and the well-received television series Edens Lost (1988) which in 1989 won an AFI Award and a Penguin Award. The most recent film she produced was Candy (2006), the last Australian film to star the late Heath Ledger.

Kerrie Lester (1953–2016) was born in Sydney and studied there at the National Art School and the Alexander Mackie College between 1971 and 1975. She held her first solo exhibition in 1976 and, in addition, featured regularly in group exhibitions including the Wynne and Sulman Prizes and the Mosman Art Prize, which she won in 2011. Her bold and distinctive portraits, in which the outlines of the sitters are hand-stitched, were contenders for the Archibald Prize at least sixteen times and, from 1988 until her death in 2016, she figured in the Portia Geach Memorial Award shortlist nine times, her sitters including Phillip Noyce, Judy Cassab, Jeffrey Smart, Akira Isogawa, Jimmy Barnes and Trent Nathan. Her Self-portrait as a bridesmaid took out the Archibald’s Packing Room Prize in 1998. Her painting of athlete Cathy Freeman was among the first fifty works acquired for the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. This portrait of Margaret Fink was a Portia Geach Memorial Award finalist in 1989.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 1999.45