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Ray Lawrence is the director of the acclaimed Australian films Bliss (1985) adapted from the Peter Carey novel, and Lantana (2001) adapted from the Andrew Bovell play Speaking in Tongues. Both films won the AFI hat trick of Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. Lantana, which stars Anthony LaPaglia, Barbara Hershey, Geoffrey Rush and Kerry Armstrong, also won four other AFI awards and has been extremely successful internationally.
Born in the East End of London in 1947, Lawrence came to Australia at the age of eight. He studied at Adelaide Art School and says he wanted to be a painter more than a film-maker. “I ended up making films but I have always painted.” He has painted quite a few self-portraits over the years “because I’m an easy subject,” he says with a laugh. As for the inspiration for this particular portrait: “I’m a great fan of [British artist] Lucien Freud,” says Lawrence. “I went to a big exhibition of his work in London recently and saw a photograph in the newspaper of a painting he did of the Queen which was only six inches by nine inches, which really surprised and interested me. So I thought I’d do a little one of myself. I didn’t have a canvas small enough so I decided to make it look like a snapshot on the wall.”
As well as his film directing, Lawrence makes television commercials. He is currently working on a new film – a ghost story ‘about what haunts us.”