April 14, 2018
When I visited Norfolk Island for the first time in May 2017, I fell in love with the place. How could you not? This beautiful island has a magnetic attraction and once youâ€™ve been, you will always want to return.Â Itâ€™s not only the beauty that takes your breath away at every turn, but the friendliness of the locals that captures your heart.Â Through my good friends Matty and Lesley Zarb I was privileged to meet Norfolk Island weatherman and artist Adam Jauczius (pronounced Yow-chus), who had painted Matty, portraying him as The Gypsy Rover.Â This photographic likeness was so enchanting, I had to buy a print which happily hangs in my motorhome.
Weather man an artist
Adam is a natural observer of people and places â€“ and in his role as a technical officer with the Australian Weather Bureau, heâ€™s lived in some remote and beautiful places, but Norfolk has now claimed his heart.
During the course of the week-long Norfolk Island Country Music Festival my friends Angela Daly, Clelia Adams and Rhonda Heyman and I had the best time, seeing the sights during the day and enjoying the music of an evening.
One of the Aussie contingent on the bill was Warren H Williams and his duo partner, Dani Young.Â After catching up with Warren outside the main venue one night and taking a few happy snaps, I later sat down with Adam and Jenny, showing them the photos Iâ€™d taken so far on our holiday.
A smile that inspired a painting
One photo in particular captivated Adam â€“ of Warren H Williams â€“ smiling broadly as only Warren can do.Â He kept zooming in and out of the photo, taken on my Samsung Galaxy S6, studying in depth each of the lines and marks on the gifted singer-songwriterâ€™s weathered face.
Adam expressed the desire then and there to paint Warren, as he felt he would be an excellent subject, but as he didnâ€™t know him, wasnâ€™t sure how to make that happen.
Warren and Dani were accompanied to Norfolk by Warrenâ€™s manager, Jed Zarb (Mattyâ€™s brother), so I contacted Jed and arranged for them to meet the next day at Adam and Jennyâ€™s studio, Norfolk ART.Â Little did I know at that time the masterpiece that would result from that meeting.
Getting to the heart of the subject
Adam arranged to fly to Alice Springs, where Warren was working at that time at CAAMA Radio. He spent several days with Warren, getting to know him better and getting a feel for the painting he would undertake.
Warren drove Adam out to Hermannsburg, the mission where he grew up, and they both knew this was where the painting would begin.
Famed Indigenous painter Albert Namatjira was also from Hermannsburg.
Adam took a series of photographs of Warren, dressed simply in a white shirt, blue jeans, brown hat and boots.
Capturing spirit and soul on canvas
Upon his return to Norfolk, Adam spent three intensive months working on the painting until he was satisfied heâ€™d captured the essence of the man with the big, broad smile that had first caught his attention.Â Adam wanting to convey something of Warrenâ€™s spirit and soul, not simply a likeness, in the portrait as he worked on the large piece (1m x 1.5m). When it was completed, Adam sent the image as a text message to Warren,
who immediately replied that he didnâ€™t want to see a photo, he wanted to see the painting.
No â€“ this was the painting, Adam explained, to which Warrenâ€™s only response was â€¦ â€œWow!â€
â€œAt school they had lots of Namatjira prints on the walls, and their colour and intensity fascinated me,â€ he said.
â€œIâ€™ve been with the Weather Bureau for many years, and lived in starkly beautiful, remote outback places, so I really related to Warrenâ€™s obvious love, and respect for his land and culture. His passion for music is similar, too, to the way I feel about painting.â€
Feels like Home depicts Warren, at peace, sitting in front of the old Mission Church at Hermannsburg; just before sunset.
A strong contender for the 2018 Archibald Prize
On Friday, April 6 Adam and Jenny left their island home to fly with the portrait to Sydney, where they would submit it for consideration in the prestigious art prize.Â The portrait prize is awarded annually and in 2017, attracted more than 800 entries.Â While Adam is more than aware his work may not even be selected â€“ only 40-50 paintings are hung each year â€“ he truly doesnâ€™t mind if it doesn’t make the final cut.
â€œWarren was absolutely overwhelmed with the end result,â€ Adam said. â€œPainting a portrait is no easy thing; itâ€™s a promise, and I take it seriously. I promise to try to show who you are and put that down on canvas. Iâ€™m happy with the picture and Warren likes it, so anything else that happens will just be icing on the cake.â€
The winner of the 2018 Archibald Portrait Prize will be announced on May 11, 2018.