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Lucy Culliton frequently paints self-portraits that reference the subject she is currently exploring in her art. At the moment she is painting animals and is pictured here in a sea of fantail pigeons, all of which belong to her.
‘The pigeons will be painted along with chooks, ducks, geese, horses, cows, sheep and my dogs,’ she says. ‘I have many pigeons. An old fellow who lived near me died and his wife no longer wanted their pigeons. She told me, “Take as many as you want; the rest will go to Mogo Zoo for animal food.” Two horse floats later, including a broken fan belt, all the guys were at my place. A local called Tiger Bobbin built the emergency extension on the existing house. I collect their eggs so there is not a population explosion.’
As for painting a self-portrait, Culliton says: ‘It’s much easier for me to sit for myself than ask someone else. Jamie, my man, took a photo of me but I painted my face from a mirror as photographs don’t give the detail I need. Then I filled the ground with my beautiful birds.’
Born in Sydney in 1966, Culliton studied at the National Art School. She now lives at Bibbenluke, NSW, where she paints full-time. She has a menagerie of animals and a lovely garden, which she uses as subject matter for her paintings. Culliton won the 2006 Portia Geach Memorial Award and is a regular finalist in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes. This year she is a finalist in all three.