Unmasked : Just Ben
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
I finished this oil portrait of Ben late this year. Ben Wyatt is our State Treasurer, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Finance, Minister for Lands and my local member of parliament. Most West Australians see him on the nightly news in shirt, tie and glasses, but in this portrait I wanted to capture the Ben who you see down the street, and highlight his approachability, humour, intelligence, and kindness.
The frenetic pace of Ben’s life made it difficult to find a time slot to sit for a portrait. The first time he did manage to sit still to be sketched, he promptly fell asleep. It may have been his first rest in years, what with constant flying all around the state. The second sitting I asked him to wear something casual – and he turned up in his Batman shirt. Perfect.
I painted him against an ochre, yellow background to offset his red shirt and black hair. These colours allude to the indigenous flag and the colours of the inland – appropriate for Australia's first Indigenous Australian Treasurer.
The painting seems to have been in progress for a large part of the year, but this is because I finished it and then went overseas for a long trip. When I returned I decided he wasn't quite finished after all, and altered his hair, glasses and strengthened the dark lines. Ben owns Ben now, which is as it should be, and means I can't keep altering the painting.