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Kate Tucker Melody (you’re the only one who saves me) – portrait of Missy Higgins, 2012  acrylic on linen, 155 x 125cm © Kate Tucker Archibald Finalist 2012

To get in the mood for this one, I suggest you click on this link to Kate Tucker and Missy Higgins interview with the inimitable Annabel Crabb, talking about Kate’s 2012 Archibald Prize shortlisted portrait of Missy Higgins. While Annabel’s questions concentrate on the process of creation and the structure of this oh so gorgeous portrait…fascinating stuff without a doubt…the thing that struck me most during the interview was the moment that Kate said “It felt like an expression of our friendship.”

With this portrait, she’s certainly succeeded in expressing friendship.  There is such gentle warmth about this work, a bit like the experience of friendship really. Kate knows Missy well. From the moment she painted the fence at Missy’s home in Melbourne, the two have formed the sort of friendship that is marked by mutual respect, thoughtful interactions and just the odd bit of fun.  It’s all there on this canvas.

Kate qualifies as a local, given that she visits her weekender in the hills above Healesville as often as she can.  It was here that she observed Missy in the pose for the portrait. The pose was then recreated for the sittings in Kate’s studio in Melbourne. Even though Missy’s face is in profile, she is immediately recognizable.  Kate has placed her in an abstracted background using colour and the placement of colour to demonstrate Missy’s dark and turbulent years as well as her more recent expansive phase. It’s no accident that Missy is looking calmly and resolutely into a bright ‘future’, given the recent recording of her new album and a strengthened sense of her own musical destiny.

Kate and Missy’s original meeting has spawned not only Kate’s Archibald shortlisting but also a collaboration with Missy to do the artwork for her about-to-be-released cd cover for The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle.  Her work also inspired a video clip for Missy’s new single Unashamed Desire ( You’ll see Kate’s influence in the use of ‘irregular confetti’ in the clip.) I have it on the best authority that the same director as worked with Gotye on his sensational clip for Somebody That I Used to Know, Natasha Pincus, worked with Missy on this clip.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Kate at her current exhibition Symphonic Encounters at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts in St Kilda a couple of weeks ago. In conversation, I was struck by her admiration for Missy, not simply because she’s a mega talent but because she also has an ability for thoughtful reflection and a deeply felt intention to behave with integrity in the world. While I have no doubt that all of that is true of Missy Higgins, I suspect that the same could be said of Kate herself.

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Kate’s exhibition at Linden Gallery closes on 24th June.

Kate is represented by Helen Gory Galerie.  All work in this post is ©Kate Tucker.

The 2012 Archibald Prize is being opened by John Wood on the 9th of June at TarraWarra Museum of Art. It’s been a pretty bleak wet Melbourne day today, but writing this blog and looking forward to a trip out to TWMA for the preview and opening of the Archibald later on this week, has lent a lovely little bit of sunshine to my day.

Stay tuned to Isiiad, next up is the incomparable Michael Peck.