“A great day for South Australia” – unveiling of “stunning” portrait of Ian and Pamela Wall

“A great day for Ian and Pamela Wall, a great day for St Mark’s, and a great day for South Australia” – this was the comment of the Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall MP, on Sunday’s unveiling of Tsering Hannaford’s joint portrait of Ian and Pamela Wall in the St Mark’s College dining hall.

Innovative engineer and successful businessman Mr Ian Wall AM (St Mark’s 1950-54, Honorary Fellow) and Mrs Pamela Wall OAM are the largest donors to the College in its history.

Their extraordinarily generous gifts have been indispensable to the building of the College flats, the East Wing (including the Ian and Pamela Wall Academic Centre), and the multi-storey carpark and its recent expansion – as well as many other College projects over many years.

“This portrait by Tsering Hannaford is one way in which we at St Mark’s say ‘thank you’”, the Head of College, Professor Don Markwell, said.

South Australian artist Tsering Hannaford has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize for portrait painting in each of the last seven years, including being highly commended last year.

Her joint portrait of Ian and Pamela Wall was greeted with enthusiastic applause and praise at the unveiling. “Stunning” and “fabulous” are just two of the many superlatives from guests about the portrait, which will hang in the College dining hall.

Guests at the unveiling included – besides the Premier, Honorary Fellows, and Old and current Collegians – such distinguished guests and friends of the College as the former Governor, the Hon. Hieu Van Le AC, and Mrs Lan Le; the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Professor Peter Høj AC, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Jennie Shaw; and the SA Minister for Planning and Local Government, the Hon. Josh Teague MP.

In welcoming guests, Professor Markwell spoke about Ian and Pammie Wall’s “profound connection to St Mark’s”, beginning with Ian’s years as a resident student while studying electrical engineering at the University of Adelaide (1950-54). He quoted Ian as saying that “my life was really centred around St Mark’s for [nearly] five years”, and that without St Mark’s, he would not have had the success that he has had.

Professor Markwell recounted amusing anecdotes from Ian’s student days, when he was affectionately known in College as “Prof”, and served on the College Club Committee for three years, including as Treasurer.

He quoted Ian on many elements of “the total experience” of College life, including the wise counsel he had received from the Master, Sir Archibald Grenfell Price, and Vice-Master (and later Master), Bob Lewis, all of which gave him “good preparation for the things that I needed to do in my adult life”.

Professor Markwell also quoted Ian as feeling “almost a duty that you should reinforce the opportunity for those who are to follow in your steps” – something he and Pammie Wall had together done through their exceptional generosity in providing facilities and support for our students.

“Theirs is a uniquely special place in the current life and in the history of this College, just as theirs is a very special place in the South Australian community, to which they have contributed so much, both through the development of a remarkable and innovative international business based in Adelaide [Codan], and through their extraordinary and unassuming generosity to so many good causes.”

Mrs Pamela Wall said: “Ian and I have both been involved with the College over many years and we feel honoured to be here today”. She also spoke of the “wonderful experience” of having “sat for Tsering Hannaford for four weeks”.

Ian Wall spoke movingly of how his parents had enabled him to come to St Mark’s after he had set his mind on becoming an engineer, rather than following his father and grandfather into work as a butcher.

“I enjoyed my time at St Mark’s and benefited from the experience”, he said. “Over the years I have been able to return some of St Mark’s benefits.

“After today, our portrait will continue our long-time association with St Mark’s.”

After the portrait was unveiled, Tsering Hannaford described the process of painting the portrait – beginning with meeting Ian and Pammie at St Mark’s. “Seeing Ian and Pammie seated side by side as we first spoke struck me as so natural and I knew I’d like to represent them in this way in the portrait.”

“Over time, the portrait came together and I have had the privilege of getting to know Ian and Pammie, learning of the beginnings of Codan in Norwood, the incredible growth of the company to what it is today, their lives, travels, passions and great generosity. Ian and Pammie care deeply for their community and give so much of their time to help others – and this portrait was no exception.

“With this work, I hope that I’ve captured something of their essence and in the years to come, may those in the St Mark’s community feel the depth of their kindness and character whilst continuing to appreciate their wonderful contribution to the College.”

For Professor Markwell’s speech, click here.

For the speech by Mrs Pamela Wall OAM, click here.

For the speech by Mr Ian Wall AM, click here.

For Ms Tsering Hannaford’s speech, click here.

To watch the ceremony in full, click here.

Photos by Kathy Radoslovich, Tsering Hannaford