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

Patrice Wills No place like home

oil on board

30.5 x 30.5 cm

The subject of Patrice Wills’ first Archibald portrait is Uncle Wes Marne, a Bigambul man and community Elder living on Darug land. Born in south-west Queensland, he is a storyteller, poet and custodian of his grandfather’s creation stories. Now 101 years old, Uncle Wes is a published author, who shares his love of culture throughout the community.

‘I first met Uncle Wes 16 years ago. He now regularly joins me at Blacktown Arts where I facilitate the Open Studio program. It is an honour to spend this time with Uncle each week. I often paint his portrait, as we listen to his stories, poetry, songs and truth-telling,’ says Wills, a Sydney-based artist.

‘Uncle Wes talks of his history of displacement and about Country, [along] with a love of Mount Druitt, where he has lived for the past 47 years. In response, I wanted to paint him at home, in a small work that has an intimate atmosphere, but feels large – despite its humble scale – to convey him as a mountain of the community.’

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