James Scanlon is a writer, gardener and musician. Tom Carment has been painting him since 1988 and had a portrait of him in the 1999 Archibald Prize.
‘We first met in Sydney when James was playing in bands The Craven Fops and Killer Sheep. About every seven years we get together for another portrait session. Our friendship is mainly based around these meetings. In between times we exchange long emails,’ says Carment.
‘I work directly from life, on home visits, bringing along my paints in a backpack. I’ve painted James in Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Annandale, Newtown and, most recently, Katoomba. I did this painting over three hours on a drizzly March morning in James’s lounge room. I said I thought I’d made him look sad, but he said that’s probably just how his face is when he’s thinking. We saved our conversation for afterwards, when we walked down to The Gully, the site of a disused car-racing track and, before that, home to Katoomba’s Indigenous families, where James has been regenerating the bush.’
Born in Sydney in 1954, Carment paints landscapes and portraits, and is also a writer. This is the 11th time he has been an Archibald Prize finalist. He is also a finalist in this year’s Wynne and Sulman Prizes.