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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC, 2018

Yvonne East

oil on linen (frame: 156.0 cm x 125.5 cm, support: 152.0 cm x 121.5 cm)

The Hon Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC (b. 1954) became Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia in 2017 and is the first woman to have held the role. Born in Cairns, Kiefel left school at 15 and after a stint in secretarial work began studying to complete her secondary education and work towards the Barristers Admission Board course. Passing with honours, she joined the Queensland Bar when she was 21. She later completed a Master of Laws at the University of Cambridge. There, she rowed for her college team and proved an outstanding and prizewinning legal scholar. She resumed her practice at the Bar in 1985 and, two years later, became the first woman in Queensland to be appointed Queen’s Counsel. She was appointed to the Bench of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1993; became a Justice of the Federal Court in 1994; and was appointed to the High Court in 2007.

This portrait – a 2018 Archibald Prize finalist – was created for a project marking the centenary of women being allowed to practise law and to stand for parliament in New South Wales. Artist Yvonne East said: ‘My hope was to capture the commanding and graceful presence of the Chief Justice (and her love of stylish shoes). … This portrait represents the strength and honour of women in powerful positions, combined with femininity and order’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2019 acknowledging Herbert Smith Freehills for supporting the creation of the portrait
© Yvonne East

Accession number: 2019.57

Currently on display: Gallery Six (Tim Fairfax Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Yvonne East

The Hon Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC (age 64 in 2018)

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.