Great Art for a Good Cause
Lena Owen | On 14, Jul 2017
The renown Archibald Prize is an annual prize in portraiture painting. While focused on portraiture, the style of painting is left to the artist’s discretion.
Darwin based artist Megan Adams has previously entered the Archibald Prize using her pop art style of portraiture with a bright colour palette. She returns this year with a portrait of former professional Australian rules footballer, Adam Goodes. The Creative Issue caught up with Megan about her artwork and the foundation it supports.
The Creative Issue: You have said previously that you met Adam Goodes by chance in Darwin. How did that initial pitch go?
Megan Adams: I saw Adam Goodes crossing a pedestrian crossing in Darwin and ran across cars to speak to him. I asked if I could paint him for the Archibald and he asked if I had painted before. I sighed sadly and said yes. I showed him the paintings on my website and he was impressed with the work of Wayne Bennett. I entered the painting in the Archibald Prize last year and donated the proceeds to the Alex McKinnon Foundation. I previously worked for the Newcastle Knights and during that time I found a respect for both Wayne and Alex.
TCI: Why were you interested in painting Adam Goodes?
MA: I was interested in painting Adam Goodes because he is an outstanding Australian role model. Especially for young boys as they tend to look up to their football stars more than anyone else. I like to paint people that have achieved their dreams but are still modest, kind and love helping others. Adam certainly ticks all of those boxes. He was Australian of the Year in 2014, an outstanding AFL player receiving a Brownlow medal, activist against racism, founder of the GO Foundation – helping thousands of indigenous youth through education all over Australia, and not to mention one of the most down to earth people I know!
TCI: The proceeds of the sale of your artwork Colour Doesn’t Matter will be donated to the GO Foundation. Were you familiar with the organisation prior to your meeting with Adam?
MA: The artwork of Adam Goodes named Colour Doesn’t Matter has now been sold for $5,000 and 100% of the funds have gone to the GO Foundation with a new owner being from Sydney. I was familiar with the GO Foundation previously. I work with indigenous children at Kormilda College and education is so important to these children. Many are unable to attend higher education in their remote communities without the aid of scholarships or government funding. The donation of the $5,000 will help an indigenous student attend school for 1 year and pay for excursions, uniform, a computer and other supplies.
TCI: Why did you choose to use the proceeds from the sales of your entry for the Archibald Prize to a charitable foundation?
MA: To make a difference, and by donating the funds to the GO Foundation I receive a deeper level of satisfaction.
TCI: Do you intend to enter the Archibald Prize again next year and do you have a portraiture subject in mind?
MA: I would like to enter the Archibald Prize next year but it all depends if the person says yes. The entire build up always feels like a wedding proposal with a big sigh of relief when they accept. I can’t tell you who I want to paint because that might jinx my chances, so fingers crossed they say yes!
TCI: Colour Doesn’t Matter has some fauvist tendencies in the bold focus on colour. What draws you to experiment with colour in your portraits?
MA: I’m inspired by Voka, an Austrian artist that creates his paintings in a day but with 40 years of experience he can form a face out of a splatter of paint in no time at all.
TCI: In addition to being available for portraits by commission, you also have many landscapes in your repertoire. Do you find inspiration for these works in Darwin?
MA: While living in Darwin, I’m currently working on a large canvas of the view from Ubirr with soft pastels consisting of blues, greens and yellows. It’s a landscape I’ve been working on for over a year. It features the beautiful cliff face rocks and extensive sky that seems to go on forever. The ocean is very beautiful here in Darwin and there is always a perfect picture moment waiting to be captured and painted. I encourage anyone that hasn’t been to Darwin before to book your next trip to see the Jumping Croc tour in the Adelaide River. It’s an incredible experience where you are taken out on a boat to see the crocodiles jump out of the water for a piece of chicken 2 metres away from your face! Very exciting.
TCI: You have recently visited Europe. Did you find your travels have inspired you in new ways?
MA: On my recent trip to Europe for my honeymoon, I visited many galleries and castles hosting some of the world’s most famous artworks. I treasured every second taking a thousand photos and getting up close to masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and The Fighting Temeraire. I really love Turner’s work, he effortlessly captures movement in light and clouds. I’m already using smaller brush strokes on my latest work to capture more movement.
TCI: Like many young art students, you were discouraged from pursuing the arts as a career. There’s no denying that it is a tough industry. What advice would you give your younger self or artists coming through?
MA: I would encourage anyone interested in the arts to pursue their dream because you never know what could happen if you never ask or try. I wish I never stopped painting. If you really are afraid at least keep practicing your art on the side. It opens your life to new people and keeps that fire alive inside of you. Learning about art opens your mind and relates to everything in life, from fashion to branding in businesses, not to mention taking that perfect Facebook photo!
TCI: You are currently balancing work as an office professional with your art. Do you aim to move to being a full-time artist?
MA: Working at Kormilda College as the Enrolments and Marketing Officer is a very rewarding career. However, to be a full-time artist is something that I would value greatly. Currently, I’m concentrating on producing high quality pieces in my spare time for private commissions and myself.
TCI: What has sustained your interest in painting over the years?
MA: The relaxation of painting. Many hours can pass without you noticing.
The look on people’s faces when the final work is revealed is priceless. Especially if they have seen the process and shared the journey with you.
Transforming a living space with my artworks is a terrific feeling. Some clients have furnished their house including the lounge, pillows, chairs and decorative items to incorporate the same colours used in my artworks, which is remarkable.
The overwhelming positive feedback from new owners is lovely to hear especially when they send in photos of the painting on their wall. It is nice to see the artworks new home after spending every spare moment working on that painting for months. The most gratifying experience of creating an artwork is to raise funds for a good cause and knowing you have made a real difference from doing what you love.
What: Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2017
When: 29 July to 22 October 2017
Where: Art Gallery of NSW