• Dr Margi Brown Ash

Three Margi's, three artists, three stories of 2019

This letter is an enormous thank you to three beautiful artists: Genevieve Memory, Sarah Hickey and Susy Boyer. They do not know each other, but once they see each others work, they will understand the unspoken.

Dear Susy, Sarah and Genevieve,


MULTIPLICITY OF SELVES…something I talk about often. We are made up of as many people as we know. We turn up in different ways with different folk. This was made very clear to me this year. Out of the blue, three extremely talented visual artists wanted to paint a portrait of me for the various prizes around the country: Genevieve, Sarah and Susy.

One of you I didn’t know, but now know well. One of you I have known for a decade or so, and finally, Genevieve, you taught my children years ago in a Montessori primary school. The three different processes were extraordinary to me, all beautiful in their own way and I will not forget the process and the feelings when we met up to do each sitting.

The first portrait began with a sitting, over a cup of tea. Photos were taken and stories were shared. Genevieve , you wanted to submit to the Archies: you have exquisite technique and I was delighted and quite taken back with the result: you were inspired by Klimt’s Sonja, available on this link:

My sense was that you captured my therapist-self, deeply listening, thoughtful and deliberate. Thank you Genevieve, not only for a very fine experience, but for the opportunity to see myself through new eyes. I shall adore having your image with me, reminding me that I am part of a world of artists and as such, never alone.


The second portrait was also done over tea. Sarah Hickey, wandered my old red house, excitedly sharing ideas and commonalities. Although I didn’t know you at the time, I certainly knew your work and know you well now, after months of connection. Sarah you have a vibrant persona and paints with the same vigour and energy. Because we continued moving around the house, the photos you took were always active and when it was time to paint the portrait (also for the Archibald) you did not have one photo of my hands being still…as a result, have drawn my hands moving, which I believe creates an embodied image that exudes energy and commitment to the stories being told. You painted my artist,-self: fierce, bold and energetic. I love the image, and will always remember the experience.

Thank you Sarah: your passion, commitment and joy will live with me for a long time.

Sarah was a successful finalist in the prestigious Kennedy Prize in Adelaide, 2019 (


The third portrait was done by you, old friend. We have shared stories for years, and your story is changing. Always a brilliant artist, you had focused for years on illustration because of your need to look after your family as a single parent. Now the family has grown and your commitment to fine art is fierce. Susy Boyer , you visited me ten hours after I learned that my brother had died, the same brother who was the subject of my play He Dreamed a Train. My sadness was palpable, and in this drawing, you have captured me in a sorrowful and contemplative space. Such a different space to what I usually inhabit. Thank you Susy for seeing the vulnerable Margi, the melancholy one. A poignant and delicious experience for me.

Susy entered the Brisbane Portrait Prize and was a Finalist, 2019. You may have seen her work at Brisbane Powerhouse last week.

All three artists met the same person within six months of each other. But was ‘Margi’ the same person, or was she rather the reflection of the artists themselves? This is an exercise we can all engage in. We all have photos of ourselves across time and space. What would happen if you pulled them out, lined them up, and started to notice the differences that have occurred that you may not even be aware of. And I'm not only meaning your physical body. Explore the emotional tone of the images...what were you thinking, feeling, doing?

It was a profound experience for me, and I hope it is for you too. A way of stopping, going slow for a while, noticing our changes, which provides the opportunity to change some more.

Till next time,