2021 Highly Commended
About the artwork and sitter
Cat Văn-Davies is an award winning actor and co-artistic director of the Old Fitz Theatre. Like Liam Nunan, she grew up and studied in Brisbane.
“Cat is as fearless as she is generous, both as a performer and person. In our sitting I wanted to find a pose that encapsulated both those attributes. Working on white gesso board allowed me to wipe back previous layers of paint, reapply, and wipe back again, exposing multiple layers, giving a rough and well worked texture. While I hope this application of medium speaks to her vigour and complexity, I mostly hope this portrait captures her bright disposition and her creative, inspired mind.”
About the artist
Originally from Brisbane, Liam Nunan is a Sydney based actor and artist. In 2010 Liam moved to Sydney to study at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts. He has performed with Queensland Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, Malthouse, La Boite and many more. Although relatively new to painting, Liam won the 2019 Lester Prize.
“Most of my sitters have been actors or theatre makers of some sort. They are helpful collaborators, they take direction well and are less self-conscious to an observing eye than most.”
Behind the scenes
Most of my sitters have been actors or theatre makers of some sort. They are helpful collaborators, they take direction well and are less self-conscious to an observing eye than most. But I am also interested in their dichotomy of character and self.
I decided that I wanted to paint Cat against a black backdrop – a nod to the image of an actor in a black box theatre.
In its simplest form a black box theatre is an all black performance space that uses minimal set pieces. It’s a useful device that encourages an audience to imagine the characters surroundings, while forcing a very clear focal point on the actor – our only window into the world of the play.