Mackay makes the Archibald with Grealy portrait

RETURNING THE FAVOUR: Local South Coast artist Alison Mackay with her entry in the Archibald Prize, Quid Pro Quo, a portrait of photographer, Gary Grealy.

RETURNING THE FAVOUR: Local South Coast artist Alison Mackay with her entry in the Archibald Prize, Quid Pro Quo, a portrait of photographer, Gary Grealy.

Local South Coast artist Alison Mackay will be brushing shoulders with Australia’s most renowned portrait artists at the Art Gallery of NSW this May as her portrait of photographer Gary Grealy hangs as a finalist in the prestigious Archibald Prize Exhibition 2018.

Mackay met her sitter, Gary Grealy when he took a photographic portrait of her and partner, Richard Morecroft for an exhibition at the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery in Nowra.

“I was a little hesitant about the idea of the portrait as I’m not a big fan of having my photo taken, so it was quite a confronting idea for me,” said Mackay.

Grealy’s finished work was dark, gothic and perhaps slightly menacing as the pair gaze out of the portrait with a mesmerising intensity.

Grealy decided to enter the double portrait in the prestigious National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017, held at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Not only was the portrait accepted but, in a field of strong and diverse works, it also won the prize.

Being party to this photographic journey into portraiture inspired Mackay to try capturing the man behind the camera by making a ‘return’ painting of Grealy himself.

“Fortunately Gary agreed – though I think he felt a little uneasy being the subject of a portrait rather than the maker of it,” she said.

“However he was a great subject, not just because of his features but also because of his appreciation for artistic freedom. He allowed me free rein to create a portrait and was incredibly supportive all the way through.”

And so a portrait of Gary Grealy – titled ‘Quid Pro Quo’ a reference to ‘doing a favour for a favour’ will be shown at the Art Gallery of NSW as part of the prestigious Archibald prize 2018.

“Although I’ve been a finalist in other portrait prizes, this is my first time as a finalist in the Archibald,” she said, “It’s pretty amazing!”

Clearly both she and Gary Grealy are excited about the continuing process of making portraits.

ARCHIBALD PRIZE 2018 takes place at the Art Gallery of NSW from May 12 until September 9.

The winner is announced on Friday, May 11 at midday.