Raina Macintyre is a renowned epidemiologist and professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute. She emigrated to Australia with her Sri Lankan Tamil family aged nine, and is now a global expert in emerging infectious diseases.
‘Alone in my studio during lockdown, I encountered Raina on television and radio, and became aware of the many women who hold prominent positions in science. Raina stood out with her jet-black curly hair and kohl-lined eyes. I decided then I would ask if I could paint her,’ says Black.
‘We only met once, due to the pandemic, in an alcove under the science research building at UNSW, and she told me many stories about her life. I painted the portrait in my studio, using notes and drawings from our meeting. She rarely takes off her necklace, which features an image of the Hindu goddess Kali (who destroys evil to protect the innocent) so I knew that had to be in the painting. I exaggerated the heavy kohl eyeliner to draw attention to her eyes, in which I have tried to portray her strength and compassion.’