About the artwork
James Kearns’ portrait is a reflection of Leisel Jones’ past and present. Her current state stares into the depths of the turmoil that she has suffered. The pressure and expectation creating a toxic mental state, driving many to depression. Leisel’s strength, which pushed her to achieve, helps her to emerge stronger than ever.
About the sitter
Leisel Jones is regarded as one of the greatest Australian swimmers of all time. She won two silver medals at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, went on to win gold at Athens and Beijing, and at London 2012 became the first Australian swimmer to compete at four Olympics.
About the artist
James Kearns grew up in Sydney and now resides in Brisbane. His artworks are a reflection of his amassed experience whilst living in country New South Wales, his battles with mental health issues, and his ongoing recognition that every painting is a living and breathing document of his experience.
The Packers prize is chosen by the team of volunteers and staff involved in the hanging of the Brisbane Portrait Prize.
This year’s prize was hotly debated with a wide range of favourites being discussed as they were delivered.
However, as the portraits were hung, it was James Kearn’s portrait of Liesel which was triumphant – presenting a scale and intensity which unavoidably draws you into the work.
“My portrait of Leisel aims to capture the sides of Leisel, the open and public side and the personal layer underneath that has fought some deeper battles.”
Behind the scenes
20 years ago Leisel made her first Olympic Games and would go on to making 3 more, winning 9 Olympic medals.
Leisel openly discusses her mental health battles in her book ‘Body Lengths’.
My portrait of Leisel aims to capture the sides of Leisel, the open and public side and the personal layer underneath that has fought some deeper battles.
My studies in this subject that reflect my own battles are on my Instagram page @kearnsyart