Portrait of Bernie Teague AO by Lewis Miller and accompanying documentary by Michel Lawrence screened at National Gallery of Victoria.
Justice Bernie Teague AO has been given a number of honours but the latest, his portrait, commissioned by the Law Institute of Victoria was a special event for the much loved former judge.
The first solicitor ever to serve on the Supreme Court, he went on to serve 20 years as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria and presided over more than 90 murder trials. He was the first judge to allow television cameras into the court and he was made a life member of the LIV in 1988.
The portrait of Justice Teague, also a former president of the Law Institute of Victoria and Officer of the Order of Australia, was at a special event held at the National Gallery of Victoria. It is the first time the Law Institute has commissioned a portrait of a judge.
President-Elect of the LIV, Steven Sapountsis said in his speech at the unveiling that Justice Teague has a reputation for being a trailblazer, and that the importance of his Supreme Court appointment should not be underestimated. “I have no doubt that Bernie’s appointment helped lift the standing and acceptance of solicitors to a more equal footing with barristers,” he said.
After retiring from the Supreme Court, Justice Teague was appointed as the head of one of the most significant inquiries in Victorian history – the 2009 Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires where, according to former Victorian Premier John Brumby, he performed a “healing role” across the whole community. Justice Teague is currently leading the inquiry into the Hazelwood Mine Fire. In 2009 he was awarded the AO honour for his services to the law, judiciary and community.
The portrait was painted by Archibald Prize-winning artist Lewis Miller, who has been shortlisted for the award sixteen times and won the Prize in 1998 for his portrait of fellow artist Allan Mitelman. Mr Miller said that his job as a portrait artist was not to flatter, but that his affection for Justice Teague had come through.“ The painting has an energy to it which is what I was after,” he said.
The unveiling was accompanied by the screening of a 14-minute documentary film by director, Michel Lawrence that records the portrait painting process and features interviews with the painter, the subject, former Premier John Brumby, Justice Emilios Kyrou, and LIV President Katie Miller and CEO Nerida Wallace.