Elizabeth Barden was born in 1965 in Brisbane. She trained as a Secondary School Educator, graduating in 1985 with the award for 'Best Graduating Student in Art Studies, Kelvin Grove C.A.E.'
Elizabeth has lived in Cairns, North Queensland, since 1990. She has been painting for as long as she can remember, and always with an interest in the human figure. Her first solo exhibition 'A Shore Thing', held in the Cairns Regional Art Gallery in 1999, was inspired by Elizabeth's love of coastal dwelling. A review by Simon Tait, 'Arts Nexus' May 1999, states "....Barden's feel for the figure, here dominated by the female form, is strong and intuitive."
A second solo exhibition 'Seeing Secrets' took place in May 2003, in the Cairns Regional Gallery. It was officially opened by the then Director of the Australian National Museum. A review by Karen van Harskamp, the Cairns Post May 29 2003, states " A true aficionado of the human figure, Barden's works are compelling, classically formed studies of the person as portrait complemented by a wide range of treatments beyond the usual staged affair....Barden has a talent for allowing her subject to find their own comfort zone, so the plastic grin is pleasantly absent".
As well as private commissions, Elizabeth's subjects have included performer/songwriter Christine Anu, Lisa Curry-Kenny - Olympic Swimmer and business woman, the late Sir Sydney Williams, Dawn Casey - Director of the National Museum of Australia, comedian Elliot Goblet, internationally acclaimed dancer/choreographer Drew Anthony, journalist/author Jeff McMullen, and performer Jay Laga'aia.
Elizabeth has been a finalist in one of Australia's most prestigious prizes, the $18,000 Portia Geach Memorial Award - in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004; and was selected as a finalist in the $12,000 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Awards, 2004 and 2005. She was the recipient of the 'People's Choice Award', Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award 2004.
Elizabeth's work is held in private and public collections locally, nationally and internationally. In 2004 one of her portraits of Christine Anu, 'Christine Anu-Waiting for Zipporah' ,was added to the collection of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
A truly passionate painter, Elizabeth is a highly committed professional who aspires to a realness, something strong, something that goes beyond a well-techniqued work- to preserve a palpable presence of those she paints.
"When I saw your painting of me, I thought it was a photo! You paint so exact...the expressions, features, everything on your canvas is so amazing. I had to keep looking at it to see if it's real. I'm so happy with my portrait, I'd love you to do my kids one day - how beautiful to be captured so true to life. Keep up the good work"
Lisa Curry-Kenny, 2003
"Quite apart from being jaw-droppingly delighted with the incredible quality of Elizabeth's work on my portrait - I absolutely loved the process from beginning to end, Her grace and artistry is obvious, not only in her paintings, but the way she dealt with me as her subject."
Drew Anthony, 2003
"As a person who values his time and privacy, I found it difficult to agree to have my portrait painted at first . I had pictured myself sitting with bowls of fruit. The Sydney sun cascading through a well placed Venetian for hours upon hours, pausing only to invite my blood to circulate to regions that had previously been squashed for the sake of ART."
I am happy to inform you that my experience was nothing like what I had imagined. Elizabeth Barden is a whisper of artist, meaning she met me and took photos and sketches of me while introducing herself to me and my family. she then outlined what she hoped to achieve with the portrait and at the end you realised as you shook her hand to leave, that the sitting was done and like a whisper she left you wondering what had just happened and if YOU had done the moment justice. After a while I got a glimpse at the finished painting and I was embarrassed and amazed and flattered at how much I look like my children and my mother.
Thank you Elizabeth for an experience that was worth a thousand words.
Jay Laga'aia. Actor