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

John Hillier There’s something about Harry

acrylic on canvas

152.3 x 122 cm

In 2022, John Hillier watched professional boxer Harry Garside being interviewed by Paralympian Kurt Fearnley on the ABC’s One plus one.

‘The interview was called “The ballet-dancing boxer”. I was intrigued,’ says the Melbourne-based artist, a first-time Archibald finalist.

‘Watching it, I couldn’t believe how impressive this young man was. He finds the good in everyone, and his inner strength in occasionally showing his feminine side is especially brave considering he’s a boxer. I decided to follow his journey.

‘As luck would have it, my friend Trent Langlands trains Harry in his Sydney gym. Trent arranged an introduction, and I was on a plane two days later. Harry and I spoke about what he should wear. We tried a few options – a skirt and bare chest, sitting, standing – but, in the end, I was captivated by his amazing bone structure, piercing eyes and hairstyle. So, the decision to paint a close-up of his head and shoulders was easy. The pale pink background juxtaposes with Harry’s masculine stare.

‘Having lost my mojo for a few years, I only started painting again six months ago, so being selected for the Archibald Prize is one of my proudest moments.’

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