Fifth time lucky for Archibald Prize entrant?

Terry Matthews

Umina artist Mr Terry Matthews is hoping it will be fifth time lucky when he submits his entry for this year’s Archibald Prize.

Mr Matthews has submitted entries for four of the past five years but has never managed to make the finals.

He is hoping this year’s portrait of actor Hugh Sheridan will finally see him take a finalist spot.

“There’s a lot of work involved in each portrait,” Mr Matthews said.

“You have to find a subject who is publicly recognisable and then you have to organise at least one sitting.

“My usual way of working is to take multiple photographs at that sitting and work chiefly from them.

“My first subject was Richard Friar, known as a pioneer of commercial cannabis (hemp) cultivation in Australia.

“Then I painted singer Wes Carr and actor Catherine McClements.

“My most recent entry was of Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch.

“I didn’t enter last year but decided to try again this year.

“I knew Hugh Sheridan slightly through a mutual friend and an appearance I made as an extra on Packed to the Rafters some time go and I approached him after seeing him perform in Hair at the Wyong Art House.’

“He was open to sitting for me, so we had a session in the dressing room at the Sydney Opera House last October, as he prepared to go on stage in Hair.

“I must have taken 100 photos of him that day.

“He was extremely friendly and pretty chilled considering he was due to go on stage 20 minutes later.”

Armed with his photographs, Mr Matthews began the portrait in January this year, working at his home studio at Umina Beach.

“It was originally due to be submitted in April, but because of the coronavirus the Archibald entry and exhibition has been postponed and we are still awaiting notification of when we need to drop our entries in,” he said.

“You would think that, being in lockdown for so many weeks, it would be finished by now, but I have also been working on other projects and traditionally I have completed my entries in just a couple of weeks.

“Maybe I work better when there is a definite deadline, but I am close to putting the finishing touches to it now.”

Mr Matthews’ portrait sees Mr Sheridan seated at his make up mirror as he prepares to go on stage, surrounded by things meaningful to him.

“I always like to put a bit of detail around the subject so it is not so much just a picture of a face, but tells a story,” Mr Matthews said.

“I found painting this from this particular perspective interesting and somehow familiar.

“As a barber, I am used to talking to people through their reflected image.”

Mr Matthews has had some training, but has developed his own artistic technique.

“I just love the process of painting. It is very freeing,” he said.

Interview (Terry Collins), 8 May 2020
Terry Matthews, Umina

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