By Angus Smith

    Local artists Patrick Francis and Michael Weldon recently joined forces to paint different portraits of the same subject. The exhibition at VU at MetroWest highlighted the vibrant and diverse community that makes up Footscray. It also demonstrated the harmony and beauty that can exist when two people see the same thing — or in this case person — differently.

    Weldon is a freelance illustrator/designer who grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne after emigrating from England at the age of 11. He loves illustration, art, footy, music, running and most of all his family. His work has been published in magazines such as The New Yorker, Time, The Big Issue and Rolling Stone.

    Francis is a prolific painter with special needs from a culturally and linguistically diverse background who enjoys interpreting the demeanour of his subjects with characteristic bold, impressive colours and a simplification of the illustrative plane. His work has been displayed in international exhibitions, including at the United Nations-New York.

    According to a statement issued by Francis, it was an exciting concept where “two popular artists with vastly different mediums and styles interpreted the same subjects uniquely to the delight of all and sundry.”

    The statement said that the best thing about Weldon’s work was how it was “perfectly structured with fine detail that creates a three-dimensional embodiment.”

    The artists not only painted members of the community but they painted portraits of each other. Following the exhibition, the artists decided to exchange portraits.

    “With mutual respect and admiration, it was only fitting that their individual portraits of each other be exchanged as a memento of this great experience,” the statement said.

    Weldon was equally excited to receive his portrait stating “it was rare that anyone paints my portrait so that was thrilling”. He also added that Francis’ work was “beautiful” and that he had really wanted to obtain one.

    “Portraiture is my favourite way of working and it was exciting to make portraits of people whose stories I found inspiring, such as Viv Nguyen and Tony Cavallero,” Weldon stated.

    Weldon said that his works juxtaposition with Patrick’s style made for an interesting collection of works. “I like the spontaneity and freedom of Patrick’s work. It contrasts greatly with mine… I’d love to incorporate Patrick’s energy into future projects.”

    Watch this space – both artists have exciting projects in the works. Weldon is working on a series of pieces which are “figure based without necessarily being portraiture” and he has also recommenced work on a children’s book that he has been “battling with for the last three years!” Francis plans to continue to execute and exhibit work done in his inimitable fashion and keep championing the cause of disability awareness.

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