23 Feb 2017

We are wishing all the best to Irene Vides, one of our Client Services Officers, on her entry for the Archibald prize. Irene wrote a short piece about her and entry and work, which you can read below.

“You can paint me when I’m dead!” those were John’s words to me when he returned my call only to tell me to stop calling him.

As some of you may already know I am an artist who is studying finance. Juggling full-time work and full-time university means that finding the time to paint is not always easy. I made a promise to myself to enter the Archibald every year to ensure I kept it up. This year my subject is John Singleton. In the year and a half that it took me to convince him to agree, I got to know him pretty well and I didn’t expect to find what I found.

All I had heard about him was through the media, a loud larrikin who likes the races. Wikipedia said he’d made some money in advertising and had seen several wives come and go. Naturally I thought I’d find some cocky and arrogant old timer, but all I saw when I first met him at his farm, at an Australia day lunch, was a genuine character with a warm smile and time for everybody. His friends weren’t suited up pretentious sorts but people he used to play footy with, neighbours and locals he’d probably met at the pub. I was even more surprised the following weekend when I finally got some one on one time. He was wearing crocks, trackies and an old torn footy shirt, I knew straight away we’d get along. We were going fishing, his calm and reserved demeanour made me even more intrigued. I was trying hard to think of smart things to say while keeping food down, meanwhile, he was reading ‘Punter’. I grabbed my Buffett biography out and tried to read, “All you need to know is find a good company and buy it cheap, no secret” he didn’t look up from his newspaper.

Long story short we became good friends, and I have been lucky enough to spend some quality time with him since, surprisingly learning about the simple things in life that can’t be bought. John’s not someone who will spend a million dollars advertising that he gave a thousand to charity, he will give a million and one thousand away and ensure it’s not mentioned. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t see this side because he keeps it to himself, and instead, they focus on what sells. He is the most successful person that I have met yet the humblest, genuine, a lover of animals, generous but not foolish, wise but a child at heart, an introvert dressed as an extrovert. This is the side I wanted to capture in my painting. It shows him in a moment with his pet Macaw ‘Mate’ and in my eyes says a lot about who he really is.

“Persistence sh*ts over everything, talent, genius or education… you’ve got it all, no 1 persistence” John’s words to me using his eloquent version of Calvin Coolidge’s quote… He may be biassed but this isn’t my first Archibald entry and I know it won’t be the last, whether I get through this year is not the real test, the real test will be in the ability to keep trying when all else fails.

Below with the real star…


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