Arts & Entertainment

Archibald People’s Choice portrait reveals shared grief

2022 Archibald prize, people's choice winner, Jeremy Eden.

The Archibald Prize 2022 ANZ People’s Choice award has been won by Jeremy Eden for his powerful portrait of Gold Logie-winning actor, Samuel Johnson.  A record 35,268 people voted for People’s Choice this year – the highest number since the category was introduced in 1988. It’s Eden’s second year in a row as a finalist in the prestigious Archibald Prize portrait competition. 

Johnson, who became well known after appearing in the hit TV series, The Secret Life of Us and was lauded for his portrayal of Molly Meldrum in Molly, received the coveted Gold Logie award in 2017. Prior to this, however, Johnson spent much of his time raising awareness and funds for cancer research.

Jeremy Eden and Samuel Johnson at the Art Gallery of NSW with Eden’s portrait Samuel Johnson OAM artwork © the artist, image © AGNSW, Mim Stirling

In 2012, spurred by his sister’s diagnosis – and consequent death – from breast cancer, Johnson started a charity called Love Your Sister, then embarked on a 12-month trip around Australia on a unicycle to raise awareness. The charity has since raised over $15 million, and in 2016, Johnson was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to cancer research and to performing arts. 

Eden’s mother also passed away from cancer – in 2008. The common experience bonded the artist and actor and both their stories inform the resultant portrait. In it, Johnson has an expression of weary acceptance, and he holds a very small photo of Eden’s mother in his hand. 

Eden’s portrait of Johnson is on display as part of The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman 2022 Prizes until August 28 at the Art Gallery of NSW.

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