Daily Archives: September 5, 2012

Ben Quilty, War Paint and the Power of Art

I bang on a bit about the power of creativity and art.  On Monday night, I watched a program on TV that really demonstrated this.  I could live without TV pretty easily but every now and then there is something quite profound on that gives you more information about life and living and being and makes me glad I have one.  War Paint was such a program.  It followed the journey of the fabulous Australian artist Ben Quilty who won the Archibald Prize in 2011 with his portrait of Margaret Olley.  I saw that portrait in the flesh and just loved its unflinching honesty, love and generosity.  Margaret Olley died later in the year and so it was poignant that her portrait won.  Here’s the transcript of War Paint in case hearing ain’t your thing.

Ben Quilty said: War artist project was the most scary thing I’ve done. But being an artist is about having experiences that then inform work. Afghanistan is one big experience that’s for sure. and there are so many stories that are not being told about our place in that hauntingly beautiful and sad place. 

Quilty built up close relationships with some of the soldiers and asked them to pose in postures that expressed something for them.  As he painted, they spoke about their sometimes harrowing choices and experiences and, for me, the impact of them seeing their completed protraits was incredible.  It was, in the very richest sense of the word, enlightening.

I was going to write about finishing some stuff but that’s enough for now.