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CW Stoneking is a blues singer/songwriter who plays guitar and banjo. Born to American parents in Katherine in the Northern Territory, he now lives in Melbourne with his wife and children.
Carla Fletcher has loved Stoneking’s music ever since she heard his second album Jungle blues. Featuring original songs inspired by his experience of being shipwrecked off the coast of West Africa in 1997 while in the Caribbean to learn calypso guitar, it won a 2009 ARIA Award.
‘His music transports you to another world,’ says Fletcher. ‘It is visually rich and conjures another time.’
Introduced to Stoneking by a mutual friend, Fletcher painted a portrait that she hopes captures a sense of Stoneking’s craft as a musician, artist and performer. She has depicted him in one of his distinctive all-white outfits with a coloured bow tie. ‘By using a mass of layered white paint and leaving the form open, I leave it to the viewer’s eye to resolve the image,’ she says. ‘This involves them directly in the work, the subject and his instrument.’
The names tattooed on his right hand are the names of his sons: Atticus (after the honourable lawyer Atticus Finch in To kill a mockingbird) and Ishmael (narrator of the 1851 novel Moby Dick). He and his wife also have a new-born daughter.
Born in Melbourne in 1978, Fletcher has a Bachelor of Fine Art (Drawing) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. She has also studied illustration and fashion design. She has had seven solo exhibitions in Melbourne since 2002 and been represented in various group shows. This is her first time in the Archibald Prize.