Ian Parmenter is a television food presenter, author, musician and the director of Tasting Australia. A lapsed Englishman, he moved to Australia in 1971 and he worked as journalist and producer at ABC TV. He has published 11 books and now lives in the Margaret River region in Western Australia.
Darby and Parmenter have been close friends for over 20 years. Darby has threatened to paint Parmenter many times for the Archibald and finally, this year, did.
‘He’s a funny man and full of contradictions,’ says Darby. ‘He’s a fine chef but does eat baked beans out of a can – though they must be in ham sauce. He hasn’t admitted it to many people, which is why I’ve painted him with a guilty expression, with his back to everyone.’ With the portrait selected for the Archibald, Parmenter’s secret has been well and truly exposed. ‘He laughed uproariously when I told him,’ says Darby.
Parmenter, a vigneron, built his house in Margaret River. It has wonderfully textured warm walls, and it was against these that Darby sat him. ‘He said to me, “Don’t make me look fat or old or show my jowls”, so I’ve done all three! As for the blue shirt, that’s his trademark.’
This is the first time Darby has entered the Archibald. He doesn’t paint many portraits anymore, usually landscapes. He studied at Perth Technical College and was a professional musician from 1970 to 1977.