Laura Jones’s subject is award-winning writer and actor Nakkiah Lui, whose credits include ABC TV’s Black comedy and the stage plays Black is the new white, Kill the messenger and Blackie Blackie Brown. Lui is a Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman and a young leader in the Australian Aboriginal community.
‘Nakkiah is funny, fiercely smart and one of the most important voices in Australia right now,’ says Jones of her close friend. ‘She posed for me in her dressing room at the Sydney Opera House before going onstage to perform in her play How to rule the world. We were just hanging out and chatting while she was getting ready. Even though it was an informal sitting, there was an underlying concentration for both of us; I was thinking about the painting and she was building up to a powerful performance.’
Born in the Hawkesbury north-west of Sydney, Jones graduated from Sydney University and the University of New South Wales. She has been a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Award, the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship and the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. This is her first time in the Archibald Prize.