Art Cup Project
Artist: Cameron Richards
Title: Miss Priya Premkumar
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Being a self-taught artist, many of his works explore darker themes of isolation and natural beauty, presented in both portraiture and landscapes.
We sat down with Cameron to find out about the man behind the painting and the painting in front of the man.
What’s his coffee order?
I’m a big coffee drinker. I’ve been going for an oat cappuccino recently.
Where can you view his work?
Follow me on Instagram for updates and visit my Gallery Website to view more. At Applecross art gallery and online. I hope I’ll be able to do an exhibition this year but at the moment I just need to focus on producing work and put time and energy into creation, so pending that. Maybe some quarantines here and there will give me time to get into the artwork.
Why did you choose this piece of artwork for the cup?
It’s my favourite bit of artwork I’ve ever produced. Also, I thought the aesthetic of the background would suit the cup. It’s also a piece that can be analysed and talked about a bit more. I think it’s my most interesting piece.
What is the story behind this piece of art?
Essentially, the piece captures my first impression of Priya, almost 6 years ago when we worked together. I was trying to capture this strong individual. How she dressed, her cultural background, and how she conducted herself at work. My impression was a very strong woman, a superior in her workplace, but as I got to know her more, I got to know her story. She told me about her parents, who are Sri Lankan, and their journey coming to Perth to evade civil conflict in the country. She has a strong Hindu heritage which conflicts against modern Australian culture. The piece communicates her navigation between the two worlds, painted with a very strong pose in a contemporary fashion against a typical Hindu tapestry. I tried to whether the background to give a distance, to further the idea of heritage being there but being in the background. To juxtapose that modern against the old and to capture her story, and the story of many of her peers. This artwork won the Shirley Hannon, a National portrait competition in 2020. They awarded it a semi-finalist at the Lester and shortly after it appeared there. I entered it into a South Perth emerging artists competition where it won the Open Prize and People’s Choice awards. They encouraged me to keep entering it into events. So, I entered it into the Collie Art competition where it won the Packer’s Prize and then Boynes International Emerging Art Prize, where it won its final award. The painting is now retired and has been given to the portrait model, Priya, although it’s big so she doesn’t know where to put it.
What appealed to you about this project?
Well, I love coffee. That’s a good start, and it’s a good opportunity to have my artwork in the local community. One member of the WA Portrait Artist Group, Pete Ross, posted in our online community group looking to see who was interested and we thought how awesome. Any opportunity to connect with that group of people is always good fun and good for publicity. We’ve got lots of opportunities to get involved in WA, but compared to the Eastern states, WA has a way to go. I’ve only been in this scene since 2019 and I’ve noticed growth. They have introduced me to community opportunities with the success of this painting.
Why is it important to support the arts?
I think the arts–of all kinds–have a very narrow band of success where individuals can make a living off it. So, any opportunity to help fill some of those gaps where those creatives exist is an amazing opportunity for these individuals to do these things they love doing. One of my friends who I painted for the Lester competition is a musician and throughout interviewing him, it was so fascinating to hear how much of a struggle it’s been for him to be a full-time musician, especially with COVID. And even now, it’s so hard to keep going. It’s a complex issue, but more little things like this Art Cup Project gets awareness out there and anything that gets art on people’s mind is good, getting people excited about it. The layout is really nice and clear, with the name and the website on Leaf Bean Machine are beautifully done and it links to everyone’s bio and Instagram in.