We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

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Mirra Whale Leigh

oil and acrylic on board

42 x 42 cm

Mirra Whale’s subject is journalist and author Leigh Sales.

‘I was drawn to her after reading her book Any ordinary day, an account of how people and society deal with sudden tragedies and trauma that could happen to any of us. Sales offers an insight into catastrophic and very personal events, unpicking and rebuilding the nature of journalism and media hype,’ says Whale.

‘She is also this constant presence in Australian life; we all recall seeing her on news and current affairs programs, challenging and interrogating positions of power. Because she is such a well-known public figure, the use of blue is my way of reinventing her perceived image. The blue that dominates the frame is still and calming, yet striking and direct. It creates a polarity and asks the audience to think deeper about their perceptions of this public figure.’

‘My painting is an intimate study of compassion, grace, empathy, humility and strength. There is a frankness and matter-of-fact authenticity to Sales, who can look you straight in the eye with a deadly warmth.’

Born in Sydney in 1979, Whale has been a finalist in several art prizes including the Portia Geach Memorial Award. This is her fifth time in the Archibald Prize.

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