New Zealand artist John Ward Knox has known Jacinda Ardern for a decade – well before she became prime minister of New Zealand in 2017. He says: ‘I’ve watched as she has unswervingly held onto her humanity and her morality within a system that increases in complexity, celebrity and aspersion the higher you rise.
‘Our sitting took place at her kitchen table surrounded by the accumulations of life – knick-knacks and a fridge covered in magnets,’ says Ward Knox about this portrait. ‘I wished to portray the person as I’ve seen her – somebody committed to a really tough and unrewarding job, who’s managed to stay grounded despite the whirlwind of domestic and international politics. The eventual portrait was painted from images captured during this session, the dual layers painted separately. I wish the painting to uphold some of the same humility as the subject.’
Born in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) in 1984, Ward Knox lives in Karitane, north of Ōtepoti (Dunedin) in New Zealand’s South Island. He has a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts in New Zealand, and has been the recipient of that country’s National Drawing Award, in 2008, and the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago University, in 2015.