I have know Fiona Patten since I was in nappies… not quite – but it feels like it. She was my first client and has been a wonderful friend ever since I graduated from uni and we have watched each other’s journeys through the years. My, somewhat haphazard, directionless scramble towards windmills, and her, far more effective taking of Victorian Parliament. Fiona is a charismatic, eloquent and extremely focussed individual who knows what she wants and will persevere until she achieves it. Not only that – she’s a good egg. Until Fiona ran for parliament, I was a staunch donkey voter. Many a ballot paper boasts illustrations of assorted body parts rather than the requisite crosses or ticks. Fiona Patten’s Australian Sex Party changed all of that. With Fiona came a possibility that someone with integrity would grace the steps of parliament. Someone who would follow through with determination, integrity and commitment without manipulating, back peddling or succumbing in to political pressure and provide a voice for civil liberty. So there you have it. I started learning how to draw ticks and crosses.
The first thing that made Fiona’s run for parliament unique, was her airing of linen BEFORE she was elected. She told the media about her colourful past in the adult industry and admitted that she didn’t mind a puff or six of her favourite weed. She didn’t hide behind words like ‘I didn’t inhale’ or ‘I did not have sexual relations’ that certain other famous politicians have said. She opened the cupboards and gave them a thorough airing, so nobody could say ‘please explain’ further down the track. And she was voted in. At the time of writing, she has just succeeded to get reelected to the Victorian upper house as leader of the freshly branded Reason Party.
Just after she was first elected in 2015, I decided to do her portrait. I thought it might be fun to challenge preconceptions of how a politician’s portrait should be. I was determined to paint a nude smoking a joint. The finer details hadn’t been refined, so I visited Fiona and we explored her new ‘hood’ – the Victorian senate chambers. High above, the angel Gabriel blew his trumpet from the ceiling. Spectacular – and inspirational.
So that is how this creation came to be. A topless Fiona, puffing away on a massive pipe (rather than a horn) mimicking Gabriel from on high. The irony amused us both. Fiona modelled for sketches and I returned to the Gold Coast to play with large sheets of aluminium and mirror. Eventually the completed piece made its way back to Victoria to adorn a wall somewhere in Victorian parliament.
Aluminium sheet was cut to shape, before the wing detail was sandblasted into the surface. Acrylic colour was then airbrushed over the top before acrylic mirror was placed behind the open sections.