Over the weekend Tony completed his PhD in Fine Art and it felt huge, exciting and surreal. It ended in the best possible way, with a party to celebrate the final days of his exhibition Stay, which was three years in the making.
To celebrate, both sets of parents came to stay, along with some close and new friends from Sydney. It felt very festive and in between portrait sittings and big family meals out, there was also horse riding and afternoon teas. I hardly took any photos but thankfully my friend Angie did!
A proud owner photographs her new painting :)
While Tony's exhibition at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery has been extended and will remain open this week, Sunday marked the end of his residency in the space, where he has been drawing anyone who booked in for an hour long portrait sitting. All up he drew 222 portraits in 43 days.
I loved seeing the drawings as they popped up on Facebook, Instagram and Flickr, and because most of his sitters were from Wagga Wagga, it became a bit of a guessing game. It was lovely to see so many of our friends change their Facebook profile pictures over to Tony's drawings as the show progressed. My friend Amy even wrote about her experience of sitting for a portrait on her birthday.
It's been a busy few months and we've welcomed lots of visitors who came to see Tony's show and take part in the exhibition, some even travelled from Sydney for the day. It was particularly busy for Tony who drew six days a week and taught at university on his day off. He also boldly decided to skip lunch on his drawing days, so he could fit the maximum of six sitters per day.
I booked in to sit on the first and last day of the show and was the final sitter of the project. I didn't know what to wear for my second sitting, having observed lots of fun outfits and strong poses over the last two months, and I asked Tony if he had any suggestions. He suggested a dress I bought years ago and wore at our wedding, which I was nervous about but posed in.
I love the final drawing, it's my most considered sitting yet and felt more like a collaboration. Most of the time I've been drawn in coffee shops whilst reading, or at home in my not-so-cute pyjamas!
A lot has happened in the three years that Tony's been working on his PhD, he's had three solo exhibitions, a residency at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, been hung in the Salon de Refuses and been a finalist in the Brett Whitley Travelling Art Scholarship. We've also been engaged and married, become an aunty and uncle, gone overseas and lived apart so we could work in Canberra and Sydney.
On Saturday night at the closing event I loved looking around the gallery and recognising people who had been drawn, along with all of our Wagga friends who came to celebrate the show and our family and friends from Sydney who travelled to support Tony. It was such a proud moment.