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The subject of Jason Benjamin’s portrait is musician Gareth Liddiard, who is best known as the founding member and lead singer of the band The Drones. Critically lauded during their 10-year career, Liddiard released his debut solo album Strange Tourist late last year to great reviews.
‘I’ve been chasing Gareth for the last three years, hoping to paint his portrait. I personally feel he is one of the most important songwriters currently working in Australia, certainly of his generation,’ says Jason Benjamin.
‘He’s one of those people who looks like he writes. He wears his craft on him – and I mean that in the nicest possible way. I primarily work as a landscape painter and I am of the idea that a face is a landscape or a map. I didn’t have any grand ideas, or worse, concepts, for the portrait. I wanted it to have a simplicity and for Gareth to do the talking.’
The title of the portrait is taken from a line in the 2009 Australian film Lucky Country. Benjamin – who is a great fan of Australian writer and poet Henry Lawson – suggested it to Liddiard when he visited the musician at his remote home in Havilah in country Victoria. ‘Gareth told me that because of his strong Australian accent, he has often been asked by international journalists why he wrote about such broad subject matter when he could potentially kind of define Australia. He told them he didn’t want to be pigeon-holed. Indeed.’