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Rose Wilson’s subject, Dan Flynn, manages – with his brother John – Flynn Silver, the family firm founded by their father Dan over 60 years ago. Now one of the world’s most respected design houses and a member of both Goldsmiths’ Hall in London and the Australian Gold and Silversmiths Guild, Flynn Silver can be found in Buckingham Palace, the White House, the Vatican and the offices of high-profile corporations.
‘Dan Flynn and I have been friends for 10 years, meeting for the first time as local judges for a charity art competition in the country,’ says Wilson. ‘I thought he was the perfect candidate for a portrait with his cheeky look, smouldering eyes and untamed hair.’
When she approached Flynn he was quite passionate that his brother should also be in the portrait since they work as a team, so Wilson embarked on two works, one of Flynn and one of the two brothers. However, a house fire meant that she only had time to finish one for the Archibald and chose this one – hence its title.
Wilson uses her hands in a technique similar to the way Aboriginal ceremonial paint is rubbed onto the skin of performers – a weekly event she witnessed while living in East Arnhem Land for two years.
‘I have been painting this way for years,’ she says. ‘Using a white background I brushwork in the detail, then I use paint straight from the tube onto my hands and mould the figure to life. I work on paper, which means the oil can’t be rubbed off, so once the mark is made it can’t be removed. This gives the work a fresh, spontaneous and raw look.’
Born in Albury NSW in 1964, Wilson studied at the National Art School and Darwin University, acquiring her BA (Visual Arts) at Newcastle University in 1997. She dedicates most of her time to portraiture and landscape. Even though she has been a practicing artist for 15 years, it has only been in the last three years that she has entered art prizes. During that time she has been selected for the James Farrell Self Portrait Award, the Salon des Refusés and was a finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.