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Art dealer Ray Hughes has been a colourful fixture in the Australian art world for over 40 years. Renowned for his huge appetite for life and art – not to mention his penchant for garishly bright ties – he has been the subject of many an Archibald portrait.
Lucy Culliton has shown with Hughes for 12 years now, during which time she has come to know him very well. ‘He’s fantastic, he looks after me brilliantly,’ she says.
This portrait is the result of a trip they took to Europe together in November 2009. ‘We spent four weeks in Europe looking at art and sitting in cafés,’ says Culliton. ‘I took my sketchbook so I did lots and lots of drawings of him as we sat having a dessert or a beer. Ray said, “there’s your Archibald entry”.’
A year passed, then Culliton looked at the sketches and decided to turn one of them into a painting. ‘It came very easily,’ she says. ‘I felt as if I knew every bit of him: his eyes, his nose, his smile, his beard, he just felt very familiar.
‘It’s the end of a day in Paris after seeing some beautiful galleries so he’s totally blissed out, eating gelato.’