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

James Powditch Sam I Am

acrylic on paper and board

200 x 240 cm

Actor Sam Neill likes wine (he has more than one vineyard) and loves his farm animals (pigs are best, according to Neill).

‘I approached Sam about a portrait, inspired by his farm-life Instagram posts that had kept me laughing during lockdowns. He replied with a thank you, but said it was about the last thing he felt like doing; maybe another time. I’d heard he was having treatment for cancer. I didn’t want that to be the focus and, of course, understood that a portrait might be a very low priority,’ says nine-time Archibald finalist James Powditch.

‘However, a vision of Sam “wearing” his favourite pig, Angelica, just wouldn’t quit, so I sent him a crappy mock-up of him spliced into a child’s pig beanie and said that my partner Nat would knit the real thing. To my surprise he said, “That would be grand”.’

‘On either side of the finished painting is text supplied by Sam – a nod to the great Aotearoa New Zealand artist Colin McCahon – and a film-like strip of Colin Wheeler landscape paintings from Central Otago in New Zealand where Sam lives.’

Powditch’s portraits have a strong graphic quality; his subjects are rendered using the language of film posters, with strong raking light, as if in a black-and-white publicity photo, and the occasional use of text.

Powditch is also a finalist in this year’s Wynne Prize.

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