Home » Author, Community Life, Recent Posts, Yvette Coppersmith

Artist Profile: Yvette Coppersmith

August 20, 2013 – 12:00 pmOne Comment

By Yvette Coppersmith:

opt1Even a year ago, if someone had told me I’d be painting a Rabbi with a Torah, I’d have been surprised. But last week, a work of that description was unveiled at Temple Beth Israel. The portrait was commissioned on the occasion of Rabbi Fred Morgan’s retirement as senior Rabbi at TBI.

While I’ve painted commissioned portraits for the past 13 years, this is the first where I’ve had the honour of serving my own community. Previously I’ve worked on portraits for private and public collections including – Melbourne High Principal – Ray Willis, Victorian Supreme Court Judge – Justice Rosemary Balmford, Trinity College alumnus – Rupert Myer AM.

To give some background on how I became a portrait painter I’d need to backtrack to primary school. That Picasso quote oft cited, ‘every child is an artist, the difficulty is how to remain one as an adult’ is pretty apt. But the mix of natural inclination plus encouragement from peers and teachers grows a sense of identification and passion for art, to facilitate the transition. School years held a steady interest and immersion in my imaginary world of faces and costumes. By Year 10 a career advisor – Anita Cyngler – made it clear to me I’d need to do more VCE art subjects to get a folio to study Fine Arts at uni. Although to give credit – my parents had suspected for a couple years prior – that I was heading for Fine Arts…I was unwilling to be prematurely pigeon-holed.

opt9aFollowing VCE I entered the Victorian College of the Arts for a very formative experience in a Bachelor of Fine Art, Painting. Since graduating in 2001 I’ve exhibited in Melbourne and Sydney and been a finalist prizes such as The Archibald, The Doug Moran, and many others that would sound less familar, as well as being the inaugural winner of the Metro Art Award in 2003.

About a year ago I became interested (it had been a reoccurring passing interest) in connecting more with my own roots to a Jewish spiritual life. I became a frequent attendee at Shira Hadasha. As I enjoyed the social connection, my recognition of the Hebrew alphabet and music grew as weeks passed. Then about 6 months in, I was approached to do the TBI portrait commission by my once VCA lecturer and artist Victor Majzner. It seemed synchronistic timing given my relatively recent entry into regular synagogue life.

The portrait sittings were from the outset a getting-to-know you process and also a dialogue to inform the outcome. By the third meeting it was apparent to Rabbi Morgan, that the Torah was an essential part of his portrait. I was honestly a little daunted by the task at hand, not having worked with a Torah before. But after an hour I came away with a bunch of photos to choose from. The following Shabbas morning (3 days later) I arrived at my own shule to be asked if I’d like to hold the Torah while it was being dressed. Delighted, I held in my arms the weight of the scroll in it’s physical, historical and spiritual sense. It was an experiential and personal insight into the tactility and intangibility of what I would soon visually depict. And unbeknownst to anyone else there, I felt an immense synchronistic moment of my artist identity, and Jewish identity converging.



About Yvette:

Yvette Coppersmith completed her Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2001. Since then, her work has been in numerous exhibitions Australia-wide.

Yvette is known for her portraiture and depictions of architectural interiors. She has been a finalist in numerous prizes such as the 2009 Archibald Prize; portrait of John Safran, and in 2008 with a portrait of Paul Capsis. She was a finalist in the Arthur Guy Memorial Award Bendigo Art Gallery 2011, RBS Emerging Artist Award 2011, Black Swan Prize for Portraiture 2011, Stan And Maureen Duke Gold Coast Art Prize 2010, Redland Art Award 2010, Fletcher Jones Art Prize 2010, Xstrata Percival Portrait Award 2010, Portia Geach Memorial Prize 2003, 2007, 2008, and the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize 2002, 2006, 2007.

Yvette Coppersmith was also the inaugural recipient of the Metro Art Award in 2003 and has been a finalist 5 times subsequently.

She has had solo exhibitions at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Art 2004, 2006, Blindside Artist Run Initiative 2007, and Metro Gallery 2008. She has also produced solo exhibitions in NSW at Horus and Delorus 2009, Chalk Horse 2009, 2010, and Gallery Ecosse, Exeter, 2011.  Yvette is represented by Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects, Melbourne.

Yvette Coppersmith has completed many high-profile commissions including a portrait of Justice Rosemary Balmford, Commissioned by Chief Justice Marilyn Warren for the Supreme Court of Victoria, and Rupert Myer AM for Trinity College, The University of Melbourne.

Her works are held in collections of Art Bank, Benalla Regional Gallery, Melbourne High School, The Knox School, Holding Redlich Lawyers, and private collections.

Yvette’s website:


Gallery website



Print Friendly

One Comment »

Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.