‘I painted my extraordinary friend, the journalist and television presenter Jennifer Byrne. As host of ABC’s The book club and Mastermind (and literally being unbeatable at Scrabble), she is most certainly one of Australia’s great people “distinguished in letters”,’ says Guy Maestri, referring to one of the criteria for judging an Archibald Prize portrait.
‘I told her that if she sat for me, I would make a small and quiet painting of her and that she could have it when I finished. I told her to bring a book and that all she would have to do was to sit and read. She brought Julia Gillard’s new book Women and leadership and read aloud to me as I painted. One inspiring woman reading aloud the experiences of another. What a privilege.’
Maestri was born in 1974 in Mudgee, NSW. He has a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) from the National Art School. This is the fourth time he has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize, winning in 2009 with his portrait of the late Aboriginal singer Dr G Yunupiŋu. He is also a finalist in the Wynne Prize this year, for the seventh time.