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Winner: Packing Room Prize 1996

Paul Newton John Laws

oil on canvas

137 x 137 cm

Image courtesy the artist

Paul Newton’s subject is John Laws, Sydney radio presenter and balladeer who is described as 'the king of talkback radio’ and 'the legendary broadcaster who has been around as long as the artist can remember’.

Newton comments on his intentions for the portrait: 'I wanted to get behind that persona and see what the guy was really like… he was actually retiring, quiet and gracious. That is what interested me: the difference between the man on air and the man behind the scenes.’

Newton has depicted his subject in a formal, elegant, yet domestic, setting, as master of the house. The subject is confident and in charge of his domain. The decor suggests his success and situation in life. The subtle use of gold, which was originally gold leaf, has been painted over so that although the gold is not readily apparent, there is a kind of gold glow through the paint – a glow of understated affluence and success.