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

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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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