Meet Elizabeth Hunn the woman that painted Australian Whisky Pioneer Bill Lark.
BY NANT BLOG
“Bill very kindly bought down a bottle of classic single malt to “wet “ the paintings frame for luck on its journey. Other friends and family were then encouraged to do the same, some did think they should rather drink it than pour it over the frame!” Elizabeth Hunn
Elizabeth Hunn the Kattering- based Artist decided it was time to take out her paints and put them to work, inspired by the whisky industry and her own distilling journey shared with her husband she pays homage to one of the greats in the industry with a painting of the man himself.
When did you start painting?
I started painting only 8 years ago, I have always loved art but only fiddled around with water colours. Many years ago, I was given a set of oil paints as I was leaving high school, the art teacher said you will want these one day. Unfortunately, they sat in a drawer for 40 years! No time to learn how to paint!
You recently painted a portrait of Bill Lark, an Australian whisky pioneer and found of Lark Distillery. What inspired you to approach Bill and ask him to be the subject of your most recent painting?
My husband was writing a novel and it was all taking a bit too long, so I suggested that he should think about finding another way to earn some money as I was waiting for my year off to paint. He then suggested we start a distillery! We negotiated and ended up building our own distillery, and in the process I learnt about how Bill had organised to have the federal law changed so people were able to own and run their own distilleries. He then started the industry in Tasmania and has been instrumental in supporting many other distillers when they started out, that same generosity was shown to us by one of the people that Bill had helped.
As soon as Bill heard we had a distillery of our own he rode down on his motorbike almost the next day to show his support.
Since I have been more and more involved in the distillery industry I have been amazed at how supportive and encouraging the industry is in Tasmania. This is all down to Bill. This is to me the most incredible thing, Bill could have kept all his knowledge to himself, but no he was generous with his time and support for others which has caused the industry to flourish. That impressed me. He also has a great face for painting.
Where and when was your first sitting with Bill? Did you have play music during the sitting or was it quiet?
We had our sittings out at Lark distillery, amidst all the stills and the passionate young distillers on beautiful sunny afternoons. Sound ideal? It was.
Can you tell us about the medium, style and dimensions of the painting?
I completed 2 studies to get to know his face well and work out the composition. The final painting in its frame is 1.2 m square, it is realist in style and painted in oils
How long did it take to complete the painting?
I did most of it over a month, but then fine-tuned it for another few months.
The portrait has a unique bespoke frame, can you tell us about it?
The frame is made from 80-year-old port barrel staves. The Tasmanian Cask Company very kindly spent time straightening them out, as much as they could, and then my husband made up the frame. It really wasn’t easy making a square frame to match a square painting from very rounded planks of rounded timber!
The idea came from a friend of ours. While looking at the painting one evening he said you could almost smell the whisky in the glass that Bill is holding. We thought we would take it one step further and have a frame where you could really get the smell of a whisky barrel. Large enough whisky barrel staves were not available, but ones from a port barrel were. Bill and a group of friends and family are going had a “wetting of the frame” of course using Bills whisky to make it smell just right.
Did you get a chance to enjoy some whisky while painting?
Yes, I only had a few sips… I didn’t want to relax too much! Bill was luckily enough to have lots of different samples offered to him to try for tasting during the afternoons.
What are your thoughts on the Australian whisky industry?
It is an exciting industry to be involved in. We have talked to many distillers over the last few years and they are all so passionate and enthusiastic, and the product that they are making is so well regarded that the future looks very bright.
What’s next for you?
Our son is getting married in Germany shortly, we intend to visit as many art galleries and distilleries on the way.
* The painting will be shown in May 2019.