Dissenting and Affirming: Michael Kirby and his fur nephew Roger
Brydon Timothy Wang
About the artwork and sitter
In this portrait of former High Court Justice the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Brydon captures the duality of Michael’s character—the brilliant legal mind, and the zesty, sometimes irreverent and empathetic human being. The portrait references his Honour’s famous dissenting judgment, Al-Kateb v Godwin (2004) 219 CLR 562, on the issue of personal liberty.
The blanket is a metaphor for his Honour’s argument that international human rights can comfort and soften the harshness of the law. Brydon has a sustained association with Michael, who regularly visits and lectures at Queensland law schools, and was patron of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association in Queensland.
Brydon’s technique is unusual. He creates an oil painting, photographs it, and digitally combines the photos of the painting with other photos of the subject. He then applies acrylic paint on the printed image to create the final artwork.
About the artist
Brydon Timothy Wang is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar whose work examines representations of the law and captures human relationships under threat. He teaches architecture and law at the University of Queensland and recently completed his PhD.
“The blanket is a metaphor for his Honour’s argument that international human rights can comfort and soften the harshness of the law.”
Behind the scenes
When I first made the request to paint Michael, I had been working from home and had my dog sitting at my feet and suggested a similar composition to him. Michael was excited to include his brother’s dog, Roger, in the portrait. The Kirby family has long kept Irish Setters, even when Michael was a young boy. They were all named ‘Roger’ (except for one ‘Amber’).
I was thrilled to host Michael for his day at the University of Queensland in March this year. I got to put the final touches on the portrait and share with him the finished piece. The portrait was used as the backdrop for his various speaking engagements while on campus.