2017, oil on linen, 67 x 51 cm
"Boy" is a portrait of my 11 year old son. As he approaches his teenage years his identity is developing. I have observed that he encounters a society that does not prioritise masculine sensitivity and beauty. This portrait uses symbolic motifs that represent beauty, transcendence, spirituality and mortality. This work references a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, "Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk" (1523). I can present my son as a monk, calm and beautiful, but he alone will develop his own identity. I can only assist by presenting an alternative reflection. Austen East is an 11 year old boy who is a passionate vegetarian and loves to play Minecraft. He does not like sports and he adores animals and babies. He likes apples and his favourite colour is red. Austen has been raised by me, his mum, from birth (he has had no contact with his father). For two years from 2014 we lived in a single room studio apartment as I completed my post-graduate study on a scholarship. I am now employed at the UNSW Art + Design. We did it. Needless to say he is amazing.