Murrurundi artist David Darcy has taken out the People's Choice award in this years Archibald Prize.
David was voted for by the public for his portrait of Warakurna and Ngaanyatjarra elder Daisy Tjuparntarri which he titled “Tjuparntarri – women's business” at the Art Gallery of NSW this week.
David said it's a bit surreal.
"It's pretty special, its a surreal feeling,"
"The first phone call you almost think they're joking, to say you've won and especially so early on in my painting career," he said.
"I have obviously a lot of experience as a photographer over the years but I only took up painting seriously about three years ago and for now to win the People's Choice award it is such an honour."
Daisy becoming the subject of David's portrait was thanks to a chance meeting at his gallery at Murrurundi.
He describes it as a "chance moment" when Daisy called in for some art supplies to use during her stay in town.
"She walked into the studio one day asking for art supplies so I gave her some canvases and paint and we struck up a friendship and over the course of a few weeks we had lunches together and we talked in the studio and I got to realise what an amazing woman she was."
"She's the Director on the Broad of the NPY Women's Council, she's an advocate for domestic violence against women, she a spokesperson of death in custody of Indigenous women, she's an education officer, she's just such an important woman in her cultural country," David said.
It was while viewing the Archibald Prize from last year at Tamworth that the idea dawned on the pair to create the portrait.
"Whilst we were standing there she looked at me and she was very quiet and she said "David why is there no Indigenous women on the walls?" and I said "I don't know, I can't answer that question",
"And she said well why don't you paint me and why don't we heal this situation by painting me with healing colours,"
"So that afternoon we drove back home to the studio and with her friend Jillian from Murrurundi they put the paint work on her chest and she covered her face with this beautiful red oxide and the whole time she was doing it she was sitting their singing the songs in her native tongue and it was the most beautiful thing to be a part of."
"It put goosebumps on me just listening to her singing this and seeing that and being part of this and for her to give me the privilege of painting that."
It took seven weeks of 10 hour days to complete the incredible painting.
The Upper Hunter will play host to the Archibald Prize, including David's painting in 2020.
Image credit: Darcy and the Fox Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/darcyandthefox/