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David Fairbairn’s subject is John Lascelles, an artist and former head teacher of fine arts at Wollongong West TAFE.
‘I have known John for many years and have always thought he would make an excellent sitter. As a keen cyclist he has something of the elite athlete about him. He is very lean with a head that has an extraordinary sculpted bone structure, which is visually compelling,’ says Fairbairn.
‘I would describe my working process as a combination of painting and drawing. I have had a long interest in portraiture extending back to 1983 with my first successful entry into the Archibald Prize. I prefer older subjects who have had interesting life experiences, which make it possible for me to create a more emotive, expressive and visually stimulating response to them. Having grown up in West Africa in the 1950s, my large-scale heads also have an affinity with African sculpture, especially masks.’
Born in Zambia in 1949, Fairbairn studied art at the West Surrey College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools in London. He arrived in Sydney in 1981 and lives and works in the small hamlet of Wedderburn, south-west of Sydney. He has had 29 solo shows and has participated in 147 group exhibitions. He has won 48 art prizes including the 1999 Dobell Drawing Prize, the 2002 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and the 2012 Mosman Art Prize. This is his ninth time as an Archibald finalist.