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Alison Mitchell is an artist and writer and Robert Hannaford’s wife. They married last October.
Hannaford is a regular and extremely popular Archibald finalist. This is the 17th time that his work has been exhibited in the Prize and he has won the People’s Choice Award three times.
He didn’t paint this portrait specifically for the Archibald. “But I thought it was more personal than other portraits I’ve done in the last few months so I decided to enter it,” he says.
He has previously drawn Mitchell many times. “She was wearing this dressing gown one day and I just said, ‘stand there,’ and that was the beginning,” he says. “The painting of it extended over a good six months with more than the usual number of sittings. I wanted to paint it on an overcast day for the quality of the light and we often only get one of those a week.”
Born in 1944, Hannaford lives and works as a full-time artist in Riverton, SA. Acclaimed for his portraits, he also paints landscapes and nudes and is a sculptor. His sculpture of Sir Donald Bradman stands outside the Adelaide Oval. He won the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 1990 and the inaugural Fleurieu Landscape Prize in 1998. He has been commissioned to paint many well-known public figures including former Governor General Sir William Deane, former PM Paul Keating, Dame Joan Sutherland and Sir Donald Bradman. In 2001, he was commissioned to paint the Centenary of Federation commemorative sitting of the Commonwealth Parliament held in Melbourne. The vast composition took over a year to complete.