ZOE Young has received one of the highest accolades in art - the Highlands painter has been shortlisted for this year’s Archibald Prize.
This year’s entry, ‘Sam Harris’, was an ode to beauty, and Zoe said she was set on her subject fairly early on.
Samantha Harris, Indigenous Australian fashion model, was Zoe’s inspiration for a work that channels Edouard Manet’s 19th century painting Olympia.
Featuring Sam in the same pose as Manet’s subject, Zoe said she knew she wanted to be “pretty ambitious with this year’s Archibald”.
“I wanted to paint a beautiful painting so I needed the most beautiful woman in Australia, and Samantha Harris is an amazing girl and just physically she’s the most beautiful girl in the country.”
Zoe, who said the Southern Highlands was was the “perfect place” for painters, also snuck in a reference to local history in the painting.
During her time as Frensham’s artist in residence, Zoe has immersed herself in research about the philosophy and vision of Frensham founder Winifred West.
“I have been and the work is definitely inspired by her philosophies, and if you look at the work closely there’s actually one of Winifred West’s books in the painting,” Zoe said.
As one would expect, Zoe said creating an Archibald entry was a laborious process.
“It was about three months in the making but about six weeks of intensive painting, pretty much working about 10 hours a day in the studio,” she said.
Community support made a big difference to Zoe during her creation period.
“I was amazed at the local support I had - cafes let me walk in looking like a crazy lady covered in paint and a lot of people donated flowers for the painting and let me forage in their gardens,” she said.
“I also foraged at Hopewood House beause the Storriers have been big supporters of my work and painting, which was another lovely local link in my work.”
Hopewood House featured in ‘Childhood Dreams’, a painting Zoe recently donated to the maternity ward at Bowral District Hospital.
“I had both my children there and all the midwives were so supportive - it was a lifechanging experience for me,” Zoe said.
“I had complications so I felt there wasn’t enough I could do to give back to everyone from the hospital who supported me at that time.”
Zoe said the support of her family had also been integral to her development as an artist.
“Behind every painter there’s a whole bunch of people putting the pieces together - and keeping them together,” she said.
And it’s obviously working - this is now the second time the mother-of-two has been a contender for one of the country’s most sought-after awards.
Zoe’s portrait of Olympic snowboarder Torah Bright saw her shortlisted in 2014.
“Painting for the Archibald is probably only something you could get away with doing once a year,” Zoe said.