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Artist Robert Eadie is a friend of Kevin Connor’s. They have coffee together most mornings at a café near Connor’s studio. ‘I’ve done quite a few drawings there’, says Connor. ‘I was doing a drawing of someone else sitting in that seat and then one morning I walked past and Robert was sitting there so I decided to put his head on the drawing. Then I got him to sit for me. It came quite naturally. I didn’t plan to paint him, he just arrived.’
Born in Sydney in 1941, Eadie has been exhibiting since the 1960s. He has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize five times and has also been represented several times in the Wynne and Sulman prizes. Last year he had a solo exhibition at King Street Gallery on Burton.
‘I have always liked his work’, says Connor. ‘I remember around 20 years ago when I was a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales arguing for one of his paintings to be included in the Wynne Prize, I think it was. He’s somebody I’ve always admired – what you’d call an artist’s artist. He’s also an extremely quiet man who doesn’t seek the limelight, a gentle character.’
Connor was born in Sydney in 1932, where he has lived and worked for most of his life aside from periods of extensive travel around Europe, the US and the Middle East. His work concerns the life of the city and its people. He has held 58 solo exhibitions. In 2006 an exhibition of his work, Sketchbooks: drawings and studies for painting and sculpture, was held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Other exhibitions at this gallery include a survey of paintings and drawings 1947–1988 (1989), his Sydney Harbour paintings (1988), his portraits (1988), and his drawings (1996 and on tour). He was a Harkness Fellow from 1966 to 1968 and served as an AGNSW trustee from 1981 to 1987. Connor won the Archibald Prize in 1975 and 1977, the Sulman Prize in 1991 and 1997, and the Dobell Drawing Prize in 1993 and 2005.