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Margaret Fink is one of Australia’s most acclaimed film and television producers. Her credits include My brilliant career, For love alone, The removalists and the mini-series Edens lost. Most recently, she produced the film Candy, based on Luke Davies’ novel, starring Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush and Noni Hazlehurst.
‘I met Margaret through my friend Luke Davies, whom I have known for over 15 years’, says Paul Ryan. ‘When I first met Luke he was still writing Candy. When the book was being filmed I saw an article about Margaret with an image of her and thought how fabulous she looked and how much I’d like to paint her.’
‘It’s a pretty tough picture but Margaret is an artist and she understands what I’m trying to do’, says Ryan. ‘It’s a picture that changes. When you stand back from it, it looks grim but when you get close, you can see that there is a tenderness in the eye.’
The painting was done in two stages. ‘I thought it was going really well. Then I looked at it and thought I had wasted $600 worth of paint. I left it for a while then re-attacked it and I was really happy.’ There is around $800 worth of paint in the finished work. ‘That’s a lot of paint, isn’t it? But it’s the Archibald and you do silly stuff,’ says Ryan.
Born in Auckland in 1964, Ryan moved to Australia as a child. He went to school in Australia, New Zealand, America and England and studied art in Wollongong. He has had regular solo exhibitions since 1988 and has exhibited in many group shows, including the Blake Prize, the Dobell Prize, the Sulman Prize, the Fleurieu Landscape Prize, the Wynne Prize and the Sulman Prize. He has won eight art prizes including the 2006 Fleurieu Art of Food and Wine Prize. This is his sixth time in the Archibald Prize.