Blackheath artist Mathew Lynn is having his “Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame” moment and he can thank his “wonderful neighbour” — the crime writing, former model and now women’s rights advocate Tara Moss.
“This is all so surreal,” he told the Gazette on the weekend.
Last week it was announced he had been named as a finalist in the coveted Archibald Prize for the 13th time and had also taken out the 2013 Packing Room Prize for his portrait of Ms Moss, author of nine best-selling thriller novels which have been translated in a dozen languages.
Ms Moss is an outspoken advocate for the rights of women and children and was due to return to her Mountains home from Jordan on Monday night after being invited there by the Jordanian government.
The portraitist said he found Ms Moss’s public advocacy and “unique public persona very inspiring” and wanted to paint a very straightforward, direct and open portrait that celebrated her physical presence and style. Ms Moss, in between being an ambassador for Unicef and earning her P.I (private investigator) credentials is now studying for a doctorate of social sciences.
“She’s really committed herself to being a public figure ... she’s doing her doctorate this year, that’s what I wanted to capture,” he said.
“We’re friends now, we see a lot of her and her equally clever husband, philosopher Berndt Sellheim. She’s a very good example (perhaps one of the best) of someone using all the current direct means to fearlessly communicate her ideas. She’s also completely unique; down to earth, stylish and idiosyncratic and great, great fun.”
Mr Lynn has been a runner-up twice in the Archibald and has also been voted People’s Choice. He is one of 39 finalists from a field of 868 entries.
The Packing Room Prize gives back-room workers — the packers who receive the entries at the Art Gallery of NSW —the chance to vote for their favourite Archibald. Mr Lynn has received $1500 and plenty of attention thanks to their nod.
“It’s my Andy Warhol moment,” he said getting off the phone from another Sydney journalist before answering the phone to us.
“I must admit, I did think that if it got through to the finalists it would possibly be a chance for the Packing Room Prize. I’ve known Steve Peters (the head packer who gets 51 per cent of the vote) for a long time now.
“Those of us who have entered over the years get to know the wonderful packers, often it’s to go and pick up an unsuccessful work.
“He said he liked the buckle on her dress, but he does have a certain reputation for his actual criteria!”
Mr Lynn will find out on Friday if he has taken out the main $75,000 Archibald Prize. If he wins the money will be spent on plane tickets.
“My wife Irene would dearly love to take me to Argentina where she was born, and I’d dearly like to take her back to Paris for a work and study trip, and to continue with some of my current themes in my work outside of portraiture. We’d also like to help our son Nemo with his study of Jazz Bass.”
Winners of the Sulman and Wynne Prizes will also be announced on Friday with another Blackheath artist, Robert Malherbe, in the running to take out the $35,000 Wynne Prize for his landscape of Govetts Leap.