330 x 210cm

Oil on Linen


2019 Archibald Finalist

Winner of the 2019 Archibald Packing Room Prize

Though one of Australia’s most recognisable faces, David delights in strolling through his Sydney neighbourhood – be it the cafe strips for coffee and a yarn with his local barista, or to sit and think in the park where he would take his kids when they were younger. All the while, he’s happy for passers-by to approach him, demonstrative of his curious and generous nature. So Sydney had to be present in his portrait, though not simply as a literal setting – I wanted to nestle David within a kind of figurative ‘essence’ of urban Sydney. Out of this, I had the idea to situate him in a cafe behind a large glass pane, so the geometry of the exterior streetscape would reflect and merge into that of the cafe’s interior.

I location scouted for two days in Sydney, much of it with David, hunting for a cafe and complimentary streetscape to create my desired composition and then staged a photo shoot with David. In the end, the master photo is a composite of two near identical photos. One photo was taken with a polarising filter that cut through the reflections on the glass so you could clearly see David’s face and the cafe interior. Then David stayed perfectly still so I could take a second photo without the polarising filter, so the reflections were pronounced. I then combined the two photos in post, allowing me to massage the composition as desired, emphasising certain parts of the exterior streetscape while retaining the cafe’s interior and of course, David’s face.

From the resulting master composite photo, I marked pencil lines onto canvas and applied a grisaille layer to compartmentalise tone from colour. I painted 7 layers of colour, rendering finer detail via dry brushing and glazes. By pushing and pulling colour, tone and detail to render the myriad of nuances, I was able to slowly build up David and the urban world around him. I started this work Nov 2017 and completed the work at the beginning of 2019.

This original artwork has been sold.

Limited prints of this artwork available here.