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Julie Tengdahl - Brisbane Portrait Prize Piece

Julie Tengdahl for the Brisbane Portrait Prize 2020
'Self' - 2020

The Brisbane Portrait Prize is a wonderful #artprize created to celebrate and showcase Brisbane people who have contributed to Brisbane’s culture and growth over the years.

This year my muse and subject was the incredible ‘Julie Tengdahl' of @tengdahlaustralia based in the iconic Brisbane Arcade.

Unfortunately, we did not make the finalists this year, however the journey to get to this final image has been one I am truly proud and thankful for, and one I will never forget. This project helped me grow, yet again creatively and as a person.

Julie, myself and a third part of this creative triangle, Melika, are so very proud of this piece, the story, and what it represents for women everywhere.

I thank them both dearly for their creative genius, input, direction and collaboration on this project, we have forged a beautiful bond and friendship.

Please, when you have a few minutes, sit for a moment to read the story and detail behind this piece, it is lengthy, but is imperative to read, to gain the full insight into Julie the person, her creative process and our final image.

Julie is a Brisbane woman who has contributed greatly to the Brisbane culture over the past 30 years and I want you to know a little about her and her story so we can celebrate her and women everywhere.

Below is the detail of the final piece.....

- The story behind the final image and what it represents

- About myself the artist, and my concept behind the image

- The Artwork, influences and what help sculpt the final piece

- Words about the connection between

Julie Tengdahl for the Brisbane Portrait Prize 2020
'Self'- 2020

Julie - Subject

Standing here, Julie Tengdahl shows her Self as she sees the women she has been dressing for more than three decades. When stripped bare, every woman is grounded by primal elements that make her at once brave and vulnerable. To Julie, being industrious and looking luminous is no paradox… women reveal their authentic, shining beauty when their unique essence is bared and celebrated as pure grace, pure joy, pure integrity.

From her boutique in the iconic Brisbane Arcade, Julie has been in service to the women of Brisbane since 1988, hand cutting patterns for bespoke garments made from ethically-sourced fabrics printed with her own designs. Her commitment to the creative process begins and ends with a deep honouring of the earth, every decision guided by her ethos of Ahimsa. At the core of Tengdahl’s endurance in the Brisbane fashion scene is her faith in a woman’s power to strip away what no longer serves her in order to present her most glorious Self.

Kellie - Artist

Kellie North is an award-winning photographer and visual artist with a deep desire to connect to nature, to her audience and to herself. She plays with texture, light, movement and nature, to create figurative images that arouse the subconscious and have been variously described as ‘highly emotive’, ‘whimsical’ and ‘evocative’.

Born in north Queensland, Kellie first picked up a camera in 2000 to document the stories from her travels and those of the many women she encountered.

Drawing on a lifelong interest in the relationship between nature and femininity, she turned to self-portraiture as a form of visual storytelling, exploring the lived realities of women as sometimes playful, other times dark and mysterious, yet always conveyed with a strong thread of emotion.

Kellie has had numerous solo exhibitions and group shows and was recently awarded a high commendation for the Lethbridge 20000 Art Award, 2020. Her art sells both nationally and internationally and has featured in publications including Conde Nast UK and Home Design Australia, as well as being showcased on (TV show) The Block 2019.


Julie Tengdahl was chosen as my muse through serendipity, just days before Brisbanites went into isolation in March 2020. I was looking for a woman with the audacity and fearlessness to bear her true self, as this aligns with my own approach to portraiture. The soft and painterly setting borrows from Frederick McCubbin’s portrayal of the Australian bush, and reflects Tengdahl’s ethos for sustainable fashion. The garment patterns littering the ground symbolise the wholistic earth-to-earth philosophy that guides Julie in her craft; and the kookaburras represent the two that share her verandah with her at home in Highgate Hill.

Influence for colour tone and painterly aspects
Frederick McCubbin 1884 - 'The Letter' - Influence for colour tone and painterly aspects


Born and bred in Brisbane, Julie Tengdahl is intimate with the changing moods and expressions of the local fashion scene and how inextricably climate and culture influence what women wear. Since childhood, Julie has drawn her inspiration from the visual feast that SE Queensland offers, as well as outward exploration into places and cultures around the globe. Artist Kellie is known for capturing the essence of women and their stories. Born and raised in Queensland, Kellie is a prominent supporter of the Brisbane Art Scene and is proud to be a part of the artistic culture in which Brisbane is becoming known for.


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