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Last year, Vanessa Stockard was a first-time Archibald finalist with a self-portrait as a new mother, having recently given birth to her daughter Isobel. A year on, she is a different woman.
‘I have become assertive as a mother, for I refuse to be under the reign of a toddler without the gift of reason or speech. I have graduated with honours from postnatal depression and I can speak fluent gibberish,’ she says.
‘This year I feel stronger and my portrait looks at the viewer with quiet resilience. There is also a starkness that reflects a new-found respect for what is important and to hell with the rest. My daughter’s effervescent happiness bursts around us like the soap bubbles we blow for her. I have never laughed so much in my life; maybe children’s television and those toys that speak have eroded my intelligence but the experience offers no end of inspiration. I feel this portrait combines the unicorn glitter and lolly-sweet haze I feel as a mother, with a backbone and an ability to say “no”.’
Born in Sydney in 1975, Stockard studied at the College of Fine Arts and now works from a studio in the Southern Highlands in New South Wales.