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

Ross Townsend Staying strong

oil on canvas

121.8 x 183.5 cm

Ross Townsend’s painting features Cherrone Ellis, a forensic scientist, who has worked for the Australian Federal Police since 2000.

‘I have known Cherrone for many years and thought she’d be a wonderful subject for an Archibald portrait,’ says Ross Townsend, a first-time finalist in the prize.

‘I knew her other interests included fitness and gym workouts, but I wasn’t aware of her taekwondo skills until we talked in more detail. Cherrone is a second-degree (ee dan) black belt in taekwondo. This discovery sparked an old idea I had of painting a portrait of someone floating in the air, and so the concept of portraying Cherrone delivering a full-flight martial arts kick was born,’ says Townsend.

‘I wanted to depict a female subject facing life’s challenges and staying healthy and strong – particularly given the impact of COVID over the last two years. Cherrone epitomised that.’

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