Jeremy Eden has been announced as the winner of the Archibald Prize 2022 ANZ People’s Choice award for his portrait of Gold Logie award-winning actor and cancer charity campaigner Samuel Johnson OAM.
The artist and his sitter bonded over their shared experience of losing close family members to cancer – Eden’s mother and Johnson’s sister – and the portrait captures both of their stories.
Sydney-based Eden first met Johnson, who is based in Victoria, over video in 2021 while the actor was recovering from a near-fatal car accident. Eden then flew to Melbourne for a live sitting with Johnson, before returning to Sydney where he painted for up to six hours a day for 10 weeks to complete the portrait. Johnson, who founded the cancer research charity Love Your Sister with his late sister Connie before she passed away in 2017, encouraged Eden to also include his own story in the painting. The result is a striking and contemplative portrait of Johnson, who is depicted holding a photograph of Eden’s mother Annette, who passed away from cancer in 2008.
Eden said he is ecstatic to have received this year’s ANZ People’s Choice award. ‘It’s an honour to have my painting chosen for this year’s ANZ People’s Choice award. This painting has been one I have been thinking about and wanting to make for 10 years. Sam is a storyteller at heart, and it was really important to find a way to share my own narrative while still capturing Sam’s character and emotion in the portrait,’ said Eden.
‘It is inspiring to see what Sam and the team at Love Your Sister have accomplished, having raised so much money for cancer research. I’ve followed Sam’s journey with the charity for many years and it’s a privilege to be able to contribute in my own way. It is amazing to be a finalist in the Archibald Prize but knowing the painting has resonated with so many people makes the experience even more meaningful.’
This is Eden’s second consecutive year as an Archibald Prize finalist, following his first inclusion in 2021 with a portrait of another actor, Firass Dirani. Born in Sydney in 1988, Eden completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Queensland College of Art in 2015 and in 2016 he was awarded the Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing.
Samuel Johnson is a much-loved Australian actor, best known for his role in cult television hit The Secret Life of Us as well as for his portrayal of Ian Meldrum in Molly for which he won the 2017 Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Television.
After founding Love Your Sister in 2012, Johnson set out on a 12-month unicycle ride around Australia to increase awareness of breast cancer. Love Your Sister has now raised over $15 million in support of cancer research. In 2016, Johnson was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his service to cancer research and the performing arts.
Upon hearing of Eden’s win Johnson said: ‘Jeremy is exceptionally talented. His entries over the last two years have been very powerful. He is an extraordinary storyteller, has a huge heart and deserves this acknowledgement so fully. To win the Archibald Prize you have to satisfy a select group of people who really know their stuff. To win the People’s Choice takes in the votes of everyone who sees the exhibition. The people have spoken and they loved Jeremy the most. Wow and phwoar. I’m stupidly happy for Jeremy. Such a well-deserved triumph.’
Art Gallery of NSW deputy director and director of collections Maud Page said Eden’s arresting portrait of Samuel Johnson was a clear crowd favourite among visitors to this year’s Archibald Prize exhibition.
‘The Art Gallery’s board of trustees had their say when we revealed the Archibald finalists and winner at the beginning of the exhibition and now the public have had their vote,’ Page said. ‘A highlight of the Archibald Prize, the ANZ People’s Choice award is an opportunity for the public to tell us which work speaks to them the most. We congratulate Jeremy Eden on capturing the hearts of our visitors with his powerful portrait of Samuel Johnson.’
As winner of the 2022 ANZ People’s Choice award Eden takes home $5,000. One person who voted for the People’s Choice award-winning painting was also selected at random to win the People’s Choice voters’ prize. This year, the lucky voter is Lainie Dunlop from Albury, NSW who also receives a $2,000 cash prize thanks to ANZ.
The Archibald Prize People’s Choice was first awarded in 1988 – now supported by presenting partner ANZ – and this year 35,268 people voted overall, the highest ever number of votes cast in the history of the People’s Choice.
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2022 and the Young Archie competition are generously supported by presenting partner ANZ. After 13 years, the Art Gallery is pleased today to also announce that ANZ has chosen to renew its partnership for a further three years.
Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand welcomed the news that ANZ is renewing its partnership of the country’s most prestigious art prize for an additional three years. ‘I’m delighted 13 years of support by ANZ continues with a commitment of support for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes through to 2025,’ Brand said. ‘We’re an art museum with portraiture as a central element of our institutional DNA thanks to the Archibald Prize established in 1921. We see painting the human individual as an essential human activity that strengthens our ability to know not just each other, but also the world around us.’
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2022 continues at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 28 August 2022. Archibald Prize finalists will then go on tour to Victoria and regional New South Wales until July 2023.