Archibald Prize entry paints pain of flood victims

Around the same time artist Karla Dickens and her fellow residents of Lismore were forced to evacuate again due to flooding on Tuesday, artist Blak Douglas delivered his 2022 Archibald portrait of her to the Art Gallery of NSW loading dock.

Artists Blak Douglas and friend, fellow artist Kim Leutwyler, drop off their Archibald entries at the Art Gallery of NSW.  Blak Douglas's entry of Lismore artist Karla Dickens, is behindtitled Moby Dickens.

Artists Blak Douglas and friend, fellow artist Kim Leutwyler, drop off their Archibald entries at the Art Gallery of NSW. Blak Douglas’s entry of Lismore artist Karla Dickens, is behindtitled Moby Dickens.
Credit:Nick Moir

Entitled Moby Dickens, the painting depicts her looking angry, carrying two pails of leaky buckets, standing knee-deep in floodwaters, and captures the pain, all flood victims must feel as floodwaters rise for a second time in under a month in northern NSW.

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Dickens, one of the nine Australian and international artists commissioned as part of the Art Gallery’s Sydney Modern Project, said she was thrilled by the portrait and how it captured her current dark mood.

“Grumpy as a sperm whale looking for limbs to bite off, living on the edge of another natural disaster in a country where the government refuses to take responsibility and act on climate change,” she said.

Although she lives in Goonellabah, high on the hill east of the Lismore CBD, all her “nearest and dearest” live down the hill.

“It’s inconceivable this could happen again so soon, basically we don’t have a town left,” she said.

Blak Douglas, born Adam Hill, her friend of over 20 years, godfather to her daughter Ginger and dog Charlie, visited her in the flood stricken town to complete his painting that he began from a sitting with her in Grafton.

“Conditions were terrible when I visited, so I can only imagine how bad it is again there now,” he said.

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