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Heidi Yardley

Birth/death – portrait of Nell
oil on linen
80 x 68 cm
Further information

Known just by her first name, Nell is a highly regarded artist.

‘I painted Nell wearing the black-and-white robe that was created for her performance The labyrinth at Carriageworks in 2015. The robe is covered in hand-painted text with the words “birth” and “death”, as well as other symbols often used in her work such as crosses and teardrops,’ says Heidi Yardley.

‘I am fascinated by Nell’s multidisciplinary arts practice and the way it is deeply integrated into her everyday life. She investigates big themes such as the cycle of life (birth, life, death and the afterlife), ritual and spirituality, and tempers this with her great affection for rock’n’roll.

‘I liked the idea of painting Nell posed like a kind of shaman or oracle, wearing her dramatic hand-painted robe. I found the curved stick in the countryside and it reminded me of a whale bone. I asked Nell to hold the stick as a symbolic staff. It seemed to suit her perfectly. In the painting she looks forward, a powerful woman unafraid of her destiny.’

Born in Melbourne in 1975, Yardley studied fine art at Monash University and RMIT. She has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and has held two artist residencies in New York funded by the Ian Potter Cultural Trust (2011, 2014). A finalist in numerous art awards including the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and the Sulman Prize, this is her third time in the Archibald Prize. She is also a finalist in this year’s Wynne Prize.

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