Portrait of Owen G. Glenn

Portrait of Owen G. Glenn

RAE, Jude, 1956-
Portrait of Owen G. Glenn
Oil on canvas
2400 x 1800mm

The daughter of a realist painter, Jude Rae was enrolled in art classes at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney at the age of 11 years. Despite the school being located in The Rocks, near the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Julian Ashton approach to art education is traditional, with strong emphasis on drawing skills. Introduced to the work of the Old Masters there, Jude Rae went on to study for a degree in Art History at Sydney University which she completed in 1981. Soon after, she returned to painting, working in a style influenced by the artists of the Northern European Renaissance and seventeenth century French still life painting, as well as by the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ideas about the phenomenology of perception.

After receiving the Australia Council Residency in Paris and working in London in 1989 she came to New Zealand, founding the arts organisation, South Island Art Projects (which became The Physics Room) in Christchurch, and completing an MA in painting at the University of Canterbury in 1992. She exhibited her work in dealer galleries in Auckland and Christchurch, establishing a reputation for carefully considered, meditative paintings of drapery and other objects, and was included in many curated exhibitions in public art museums.

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Returning to Australia in 2003, she broadened her focus on still life or “object painting” to include portraiture, winning the prestigious Portia Geach Memorial Award in 2005, Australia’s most prestigious award for female artists. The same year a series of her small “interiors”, portraits of friends with their eyes closed, were included in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia in Canberra. The same institution also commissioned her to paint the distinguished scientist Frank Fenner which was her first commissioned portrait of a male subject.

She won the Portia Geach prize for a second time in 2008 with Self Portrait 2008 (The Year My Husband Left), a full-length image of herself in which she stands alone in her studio, holding her paintbrushes, with her dog Tilly at her feet. The artist limits herself to one commissioned portrait a year, and has remarked: “Portraiture is both fascinating and daunting precisely because it lies at the juncture of the subjective and objective impulses in my practice. When a person sits for a portrait, the painter sees them as both subject and object. Negotiating a resolution to this duality is very complicated and subtle.”

Jude Rae was recommended to the Business School to paint a commemorative portrait of businessman and benefactor Owen Glenn. An immigrant to New Zealand, Glenn arrived at the age of 12 years, and attended Mount Roskill Grammar School for three years before leaving to begin his career in logistics with Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL). Between 1969 and 1975 he established McGregor Swire Air Services (MSAS), a highly successful pioneer in the field of full-service freight forwarding, for the Ocean and Swire groups. Then in 1978 he formed Direct Container Line (DCL) which became the United States’ second-largest importer of goods. Three years later, he set up NACA Logistics, now one of the world’s largest freight-forwarding conglomerations, and in 1989 he was honoured as a United States Entrepreneur of the Year.

Now he is the Chair of OTS Logistics Group, an integrated global transport conglomerate, and lives in Europe but still regards himself as a New Zealander. In 2005, he donated $7.5 million to the new Business School to be built at The University of Auckland. This was a landmark philanthropic donation in New Zealand education in recognition of which The University of Auckland named the Owen G.Glenn Building. Jude Rae has amalgamated separate studies of this building, designed by Australian Richard Francis-Jones of the Sydney practice FJMT, with a portrait of Owen Glenn made from life studies made over four sittings in the saloon of his yacht.

Owen Glenn was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours List for 2008. Controversy followed soon after, with speculation about political appointments proceeding from his donations to the Labour Party. In September of that year, Owen Glenn returned to New Zealand to give evidence to Parliament’s Privileges Committee against the New Zealand First Party in relation to undeclared donations to the party’s leader, Winston Peters.

The Artist

Born in Australia, in 1987 she migrated to NZ. Rae studied at the University of Sydney and NSW Institute of the Arts (where she later lectured part time in art history), as well as at University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. Working in a realist style, she is known for her paintings of draped and bunched white cloth with a suggestion of the female form beneath the surface.

Other works by this artist

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