By Shelby Brooks
IT was a chance encounter on the main street of Korumburra that led to the creation of a portrait worthy of an Archibald Prize.
Local artist Fiona Bilbrough accidently scraped Kevin McPherson’s car on Commercial Street earlier this year, and while exchanging details on the footpath, she knew he would make a great subject for a portrait.
“I just automatically knew, that’s a man who has a face that has got to be painted,” Fiona said.
After sorting out the car mishap, she told Kevin her idea.
“I thought, why not!” he said.
“I like doing something different.
“Everybody picks on me for the way I dress but I’m comfortable, that’s me!” he joked.
The portrait is based on a photograph that Fiona took of Kevin at the Korumburra Fire Station, where he has volunteered for 47 years.
A stalwart of Korumburra, Kevin is not the type to seek praise or fame for his volunteer efforts with the CFA.
“It doesn’t matter where you go, if you meet another person in the CFA, they’re good because they’re volunteers – if you’re a volunteer, you’re a good person,” he said.
Fiona had hoped to enter the painting in the Sulman Prize, which runs concurrently with the Archibald Prize and the Wynne Prize held at the Art Gallery of NSW.
However, all were cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead, Fiona has entered it in the 2020 Shirley Hannan Portrait Prize held in Bega, NSW.
It is a $50,000 biennial award for realistic portraiture.
“I see it as a tribute to all the volunteer firefighters and all service providers,” Fiona said.
“Hopefully, the painting speaks for itself.”
Fiona and Kevin will find out on June 29 if the painting has been selected as a finalist.
Fiona also painted a second portrait of Kevin, for which he sat for the painting, to enter in the Archies Bald Prize, a spoof of the more serious Archibald Prize.