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Craig Ruddy 'Dark emu' – portrait of Bruce Pascoe

acrylic, oil, charcoal and varnish on canvas

213 x 167 cm, 216 x 170 cm framed

Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man known for his award-winning book Dark emu. ‘Bruce’s writing plays an important role in shaping a more accurate historical acceptance of Aboriginal sovereignty,’ says Craig Ruddy. ‘He examines sophisticated Aboriginal agriculture practices that cultivated the pristine abundance witnessed by colonial settlers.’

‘I met with Bruce just after the devastating bushfires swept through East Gippsland, which took the life of his close neighbour and good friend. The destruction also instigated the unwarranted removal of sacred mother trees by forest authorities, which Bruce and a small team had been fighting for years to protect. For someone who had suffered such loss, his openness and vulnerability were humbling. But it was his courage and resilience in seeking truth and reconciliation that I wanted to represent.’

Born in Sydney in 1968, Ruddy studied design and fashion illustration, working as a commercial art director before focusing his efforts on art. This is his fifth time as an Archibald Prize finalist. He won in 2004 with a portrait of David Gulpilil, which was also voted People’s Choice. He was awarded People’s Choice again in 2010 for a portrait of Warwick Thornton.

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