Ken Done and partner Judy made the trip from Sydney for the festivities at TarraWarra Museum of Art, for the opening of the 2011 Archibald Prize.  I managed to catch  up with him for a brief chat and learnt a little of what he’s got planned for the next twelve months and  about a project which involves our very own Melbourne Social Studio and his seventieth year.

In September of this year he will open an exhibition of paintings and drawings ‘under water’.  It’s called Sea Gardens. He emphasised that the series is not about what it looks like underwater but what it feels like. He and Judy have been diving in the Barrier Reef and the South Pacific Islands for the past 30 years, providing rich inspiration for this body of work.

In May 2012 he will mount a major exhibition of work related to the attack on Sydney harbour by the Japanese Midget submarines during the second world war. He described it this way.

“So much of my work has been a celebration of Sydney Harbour.  It’s a great challenge to look at it in a different kind of way. Just like Sydney Nolan didn’t illustrate Galipoli, I’m trying to find a way to express it through art.”

Watch Ken’s website for details of these exhibitions.

He’s very proud of the work of  a young woman by the name of Jacki Rudduck who raised $30,000 for the Social Studio by wearing Ken Done’s trademark clothing for every day of his 70th year. Melbournians might know of the Social Studio in Smith Street Collingwood.  It’s a place where  young refugees are creating clothing with a distinctive style from recycled and excess manufacturing materials.  It’s one of the best social projects I know of.

Ken Done’s stunning self portrait made the finalist cut for this years Archibald Prize.  Ken Done’s website.