William Mackinnon has painted his partner, designer Sunshine Bertrand, and their newborn son, Lucky Jackson Bertrand Mackinnon.
He says: ‘Birth is such an overwhelming and emotional moment. The image of one’s newborn suckling his mother’s breast is just incredible. I thought it would make a great painting, so simple but so powerful; however, my emotional register was so overflowing, I was finding beauty and meaning everywhere. I let the idea and initial drawings percolate then last year revisited the subject, working in quite a realistic way, which didn’t capture the intensity. I began using collage and included pieces of fabric from the gown Sunshine wore at the birth and a kimono from a memorable holiday when we were falling in love.
‘I made seven successive paintings, continually simplifying the composition and managed to make the mother/son interconnection more powerful and sensual. The final painting came out in a week or so, the speed and familiarity with the subject giving the painting a freshness and intimacy.’
Born in Melbourne in 1978, Mackinnon studied at the Chelsea School of Art and Design and the Victorian College of the Arts. This is his second time as an Archibald Prize finalist.