Anna Meares OAM is an Australian cyclist whose determination and drive saw her come back from a life-threatening crash to take the world and Olympic titles. Before her first sitting for Phillip Barnes, she undertook a program to help identify key crossroads in her life. She kept coming back to her absolute need to put everything else out of her mind to concentrate on the task at hand. Only by narrowing her focus is she able to compete and achieve at the level she does.
‘The transformation that comes over her when she slips on her race helmet is startling, if not intimidating,’ says Barnes. ‘That transformation is the central theme of the portrait. Almost assaulted by her stare, the viewer is hopefully transfixed long enough to allow the eye to wander back through the layers into Anna’s past where some of these references to life’s crossroads are hidden.’
The work features a visual movement from the technicolour collection of words, numbers and symbols towards a focused monochromatic depiction of Meares. ‘This moves Anna’s traumatic story to the background and places the viewer on the starting line with her moments before she launches,’ says Barnes.
Born in Melbourne, Barnes works from a studio in the Victorian Alps. He has had portraits in numerous exhibitions throughout Australia. Besides his commissioned works, he has completed over 500 portraits for charity. This work was one of three completed for the Amy Gillett Foundation.