After taking a break from entering last year, I’ve created a painting for this year’s Archibald Prize – A portrait of Illustrator / Author Anna Walker. Happily we’ve known each other for years, so I was very happy when she agreed to sit for me. I’ve had this image floating around in my head for over a year now, so it was good to actually have the chance to realise it. And it got me into a bit of costume design / creation as well – I made the lush ‘Red Riding Hood’ cape and managed to persuade poor Anna to wear it one sweltering day last December. After sketching and gathering reference. I got started on the actual painting in January and put the final coat of varnish on the first day of March.The actual size is about 2 metres x 1.1 metres, so again it was great to give myself the opportunity to work so large, though I did wonder half way through if I would actually get to finish it in time.
The painting is called “Basement Bird” which is the apt name that Anna gives herself whilst working in her below street level studio in Richmond. I’ve tried to incorporate some of her characters in knitted form – she has a few of these lovely little friends planted around her workspace. The ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ guise I think is perfect for her – I guess I envisioned her negotiating her imagination in her basement workspace, surrounded by trees and characters. The leaves on the trees are collaged from a copy of “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which again I hopes reflect a journey of wonder. It goes on its journey to the Art Gallery of NSW today – who knows what will happen – good luck, little bird!
I have uploaded a video of process stills to YouTube – apologies for the intense colour, something wacky happened in the processing and I haven’t been able to fix it as yet.