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Prof George Seddon, the subject of Peteris Ciemitis’ portrait, is one of Australia’s most highly regarded and erudite academics. To quote Robyn Williams, ‘George Seddon is the Professor of Everything. He has held chairs of English, philosophy, environment and geology in our universities’. He is currently emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Melbourne and senior honorary research fellow at the University of Western Australia. Widely published, his book Sense of place is internationally acclaimed.
Ciemitis, an urban designer and town planner as well as an artist, first encountered Seddon through his writing. ‘Sense of place was a must-read text to planners and designers of my generation, and still is’, he says. ‘More recently, Mike Day, director of our planning practice RobertsDay introduced me to George and I popped the question as to whether he would consider sitting for me. Happily he agreed.’
Ciemitis deliberately tries to capture both Seddon himself and his connection to the landscape and the environment. ‘It is not only a map of George but a reference to a map of place: the environment within which George is concerned’, he says. The painting aims to communicate Seddon’s intensely inquisitive journey through-out his life. ‘He told such wonderful anecdotes that it was hard at times to pay attention to the painting. He sat still, but was like trying to capture a moving target!’
Ciemitis is a watercolorist. His family heritage is Latvian and from his youth he has been immersed in many Baltic cultural traditions. A lot of his early work reflects the northern European watercolour tradition. ‘It’s not something that I emulate but the Latvian style has certainly been a springboard and an influence in my work.’
Born in Western Australia is 1959, Ciemitis has been exhibiting in solo and group shows since 1993. He has won various awards and prizes including the 2006
City of South Perth Art Award.