DAVID Darcy picked up a paint brush for the first time two years ago and his works are already touring the country, hanging out on gallery walls next to that of Australian art luminaries.
After uprooting and relocating to Murrurundi and trading the flash of the camera for palettes and easels, Mr Darcy’s stocks have risen meteorically in his new preferred medium and was named a finalist in the 2018 Archibald Prize.
His portrait of fellow Murrurundi artist, Charlotte Drake-Brockman, was in the picture for the premier painting prize and it’ll be sitting tight in Tamworth across December and January when the gallery exhibits all 57 finalists.
A remarkable feat in itself, however Mr Darcy’s Archie’s acclaim sits neatly and almost uniquely to his 2016 triumph as people’s choice champion in the National Photographic Portrait Prize.
Despite being new to the industry, Mr Darcy said he felt right at home at the announcement of this year’s Archibald Prize.
“When I went to the Archibald, it was like the door had been opened, the day I went to the exhibition, I went ‘I belong here’, I can bloody win this thing, I can feel it,” he said.
“It was just a sense of belief in yourself and a sense this is what I am supposed to be doing.”
But that wasn’t always the case.
He was rejected for the Archiblad last year when he entered the second ever painting he had finished.
“It got accepted in the Salon des Refusés at the national trust which was a huge thing,” he said.
“I though ‘great, my first step in.
“I went to that exhibition and felt like I didn’t belong.”
Belonging has been somewhat easier to come by in his new hometown of Murrurundi, a move he described as one of his best.
“I came out to this small town where no one knew me, but I feel like I’m part of the community,” he said.
“I went up to the local school a few months back and cut up some wood for them and next thing I know I’ve got a sticky date pudding cooked for me by one of the mothers.”
In his previous life as a photographer, Mr Darcy specialised in dogs and worked as the on-set snapper for both Red Dog films.
Dispelling the media myth of it being impossible to work with children or animals, he said it was much easy to capture a dog on film, than a person on canvas.
“The dogs aren’t self-conscious,” he said.
“So you can capture a dog being a dog, and if you’re a dog lover you can identify with those pictures and I can identify little quirky things that they do.
“You sit someone in front of a camera and all of a sudden they change, you can be talking one-on-one, but you put a camera in front of their face and they change.
“That picture I won the national portrait prize, it took all of those years of experience to get a young kid at the moment he is not expecting to be photographed,I got the picture.
“That’s what you’re trying to transfer into paintings.”
He said significant exhibitions like the Archibald were important for regional areas and galleries played an important role in their communities.
“You go into a art gallery and you escape, you go int a different world, you start imagining who these people are on the walls,” he said.
“You're walking through a beautiful valley or across mountains within a picture and it’s the same as actually being out and in those areas.
“The Archibald is about meeting this incredible array pf people that are in those portraits.”
The Archibald Tamworth exhibit opens on December 1.
It’ll run until the end of January which will mark the beginning of the Tamworth art gallery’s 100th year.
Gallery director Bridget Guthrie said it important to open up access to the arts to people in regional and remote communities.
“We’ve worked really hard to ensure we could deliver this exhibition for free, so with the UNE sponsorship and support, we can do that, which makes the arts accessible,” she said.
“It is a very special year for us.
“To have an Archibald Prize and then also for the gallery to turn 100, it’s a great fit.
“The birthday is on June 1 nd we’ve got a special surprise for later in the year.”