Pamela Whitlock receives a commissioned piece in her honour.
Pamela Whitlock receives a commissioned piece in her honour. Luka Kauzlaric

Softly spoken 'steamroller' honoured for dedication to arts

IF Pamela Whitlock was bemused by the fuss made over her by a journalist, then what was to come later in the evening would have left her astounded.

Shortly before the Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards on Saturday night, the outgoing Gladstone Art Gallery and Museum curator stopped to answer questions about her career, life, and plans for retirement.

"You do know I'm only going in January, don't you?" she asked.

Later that evening a litany of dignitaries lined up to pay homage to a softly spoken woman who people just couldn't say no to.

"Over the years, many people have made the mistake of underestimating this mild-mannered and quietly spoken gallery director," Mayor Gail Sellers said. "I never have."

Corporate titans and politicians have been bowing to the might of the softly spoken steamroller since she arrived in Gladstone in 1993 from Brisbane, with the 2003 expansion of the gallery one of her highlights.

She managed to secure funds for the expansion with a one page fax to the arts minister of the day.

Those in the audience were left in no doubt as to the admiration and respect she commanded throughout the state and nation.

Among the gifts given to Ms Whitlock was a key to the city with a simple messasage enscribed: "Presented by a grateful community to Pamela Whitlock on the occasion of her retirement and director and curator of the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery Museum following 20 years of meritorious service."