For Lakshman Ramesh, the hardest part of entering a portrait in the prestigious Young Archies was deciding who to paint.
And after much soul searching he was very pleased he decided on a self-portrait as it is the only one selected as a finalist in the junior division of Australia’s most prestigious art awards, the Archibalds.
Now in its seventh year, the competition is open to aspiring young artists aged between five and 18 to submit a portrait of someone special to them and who plays an important role in their life.
There were more than 2000 entries received and Lakshman was the only male selected in the 16-18 years division.
Relatively new to painting, the Year 11 student from Marist College Eastwood said he still couldn’t believe he was picked from such a quality field of up-and-coming artists.
Taking about three months to complete, the portrait gives an incredible insight into the private life of a 16-year-old with all of the stresses and strains of the looming HSC.
Lakshman said he was both humbled and honoured not only to be judged as a finalist but to have his portrait hanging in the Art Gallery of New South Wales alongside winners of the prestigious Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.
“I still can’t believe my first self-portrait has been judged as a finalist, it is such an incredible honour and I’m still pinching myself,” he said.
“I know a few people in my family were a little disappointed I didn’t chose them to paint, but now that I am a finalist they are very happy.
“It took a long time to decide who to feature, it had to be somebody I know very well and has played a huge part in my life so I thought who better to paint than myself.
“I chose to draw myself as my life is in my hands and I am responsible for my own actions.
“And I drew myself with a neutral expression, portraying how I feel in Year 11 with the stress and workload that comes along with it.
“I drew myself in black and white to symbolise that I am yet to experience life to the fullest and the red, orange and yellow gradient symbolises my future experiences, opportunities and life that will soon fill me with colour.
“Even if I don’t win, I feel like I’m a winner as it has been a tremendous learning experience and made me even more keen to improve my skills.”
Principal of Marist College Eastwood, Anthony Boys, said the whole school community is incredibly proud of the young artist and his achievements.
“It is the first time a student from the College has been entered into a national art competition of this calibre and it’s wonderful to know that his beautiful self-portrait now hangs in the Art Gallery of NSW,” he said.
“Being selected as a finalist in the Young Archie competition is a massive achievement and a huge validation of Lakshman’s perseverance and determination.
“Lakshman has worked diligently at refining his drawing skills during his high school years both here at Marist and independently out of school. This is also a testament to the dedication, hard work and talents of the College’s Visual Arts department.”
The Young Archies is an annual competition run by the Art Gallery of NSW to encourage and showcase the next generation of artists.
The ten finalists from each age category are now displayed at the Art Gallery of NSW and the winners will be announced on 10 August, 2019.