THE tiny town of Archies Creek (population 24) in Victoria’s Gippsland region is going all out to celebrate the hairless head in its own take on the Archibald Prize.
The inaugural Archies Bald Portrait Prize has been inspired by the courage of local Deb Rielly who, when she developed breast cancer 15 years ago, decided to bare it all and not put on a wig or scarf.
The 50-year-old from Wonthaggi and mother of twin 19-year-old sons, continued to work as a paramedic, compete in triathlons, tirelessly volunteer and charity fundraise until sidelined by ill health.
Deb was recently named Bass Coast Shire Citizen of the Year and has published a book, Just because, reflecting her belief that there is no reason why many fit and active people get cancer. It is “just because”.
The call has now gone out for people to paint, draw, print or sculpt an artwork that will draw attention to the beauty of the hairless head.
The idea is to de-stigmatise the hair loss that can accompany cancer treatment.
The artworks can depict people who have lost their hair through chemotherapy, alopecia and other skin conditions, genetic factors or who have made baldness a choice.
Artists can paint a portrait of whoever they like, but they must paint them without hair on their head.
Organisers, the ArtSpace Gallery and the Archies Creek Hall, want all entrants to describe what the piece is about and its inspiration so people attending the exhibition can find their own inspiration in the stories.
“Deb’s incredible courage has inspired us to come together as a community in Gippsland to raise funds to make cancer a disease of the past,” one of the organisers, Liane Arno, said.
It is hoped that as many people as possible will enter the Archies Bald Portrait Prize as all proceeds – including the modest $10 to $15 entry fee (depending on size of the artwork) – go to the Cancer Council to help with research into the disease.
The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by age 85 is one in eight for women.
Entrants must submit photos of their original works to the organisers.
The selected works will be exhibited at Archies Creek Hall from May 24 -26.