Richard Lewer

Liz Laverty

Medium
oil on epoxy-coated steel
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Elizabeth Laverty and her late husband Colin were among the first art collectors to travel the country and stay in remote Aboriginal communities to visit the art centres and meet the artists of the work they were falling in love with.

Over several decades, they built one of Australia’s best collections of Indigenous Australian contemporary art and worked tirelessly to raise money for community health and recreational facilities.

‘I didn’t know any of this when I first met Liz a year after Colin’s death. Prompted by my animation depicting a tragic love story about an elderly couple, we launched into a long conversation about life, love and death. It was easy to feel an instant rapport with Liz, a fellow red-head, because she is a warm, passionate, humble woman,’ says Richard Lewer.

‘I remember when I asked Liz if I could paint her portrait, her first response was, “Why would you want to paint me, what have I done?”’

Born in New Zealand in 1970, Melbourne-based Lewer was recently included in The National: new Australian art and the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial – Close to home. He won the 2016 Basil Sellers Art Award and 2014 Blake Prize. This is his first time in the Archibald Prize.