Clarkson artist hopes portrait of Nyoongar man will land a place in Archibald Prize exhibition


Deb Hamm with the painting she is entering in the Archibald Prize exhibition. Picture: Bruce Hunt.
Deb Hamm with the painting she is entering in the Archibald Prize exhibition. Picture: Bruce Hunt.

A CLARKSON artist hopes her portrait of a Nyoongar man will secure a place in the national Archibald Prize exhibition.

Deb Hamm has dreamt of being part of the annual exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW since she realised she could draw well.

“I never took art lessons or studied art professionally, but I was good at it,” she said.

“Somehow, I knew techniques and ways of using certain types of mediums without the need of anyone having to teach me methods.

“I have met art curators and art dealers who have praised my work before. So, I must have some talent.”

This month, she will take her portrait of Oakford resident Danny Ford to Sydney in the hope it will be chosen for the exhibition, which has a $100,000 art prize.

“I met Danny whilst he was delivering a cultural awareness training course at my work place,” Hamm said.

“His story and his training touched every single person in that room.

“There was not one single dry eye when the issues of transgenerational trauma were addressed, and the Australian history books opened as to what really happened to the Aboriginal community here in WA, and everywhere else in Australia.

“I knew then that I had to paint him; I had to paint Danny’s story and his work.

“It is people like Danny who are changing our communities on a day to day basis; they are the real heroes of our society.”

Mr Ford has a degree in social work from Curtin University and a teaching diploma from Mt Lawley Teachers College.

He currently is a director of the Clontarf Foundation, Polly Farmer Foundation and Wungening Aboriginal Corporation.

While their aim is only to be part of the exhibition, Hamm said if she won the ultimate prize, the money would go towards a program they had been trying to “get off the ground”.

“The program will focus on delivering cultural awareness and a sense of belonging to Aboriginal youth,” she said.

“The incarceration rates for young Aboriginal males have hit record highs, so we need to start listening to what the Aboriginal community suggests needs to be done, as a path toward healing.

“We just want to be exhibited, so we can raise awareness.

“Being part of the exhibition would be like winning the ultimate prize to us.”

Finalists will be notified if chosen in May, and the exhibition will take place from May 12 to September 9.