Thom Roberts

Rachey in the Mirror

Ceramicist Shelley Simpson is the founder and creative director of Mud Australia. Based in Sydney, the company produces its porcelain products by hand, which it sells internationally.

Thom Roberts first met Simpson at Mud in 2017 where he painted some of their plates for Birdfoxmonster, a performance art event at Carriageworks in Sydney.

‘She was nice and happy to me,’ says Roberts. ‘I call her Rachey. I like to change everybody’s name. My name is Robert but I want people to call me Thom.’

For this portrait, painted on a Mud plate, Simpson sat for Roberts at Studio A, a social enterprise that offers professional development for artists with intellectual disability.

‘In my pictures I love to play with mirror images – they are the same but different; they are opposites, negative and positive. I am made of negative and positive. So is Rachey. Everyone is,’ says Roberts, a second-time Archibald finalist.

Asked why she has a foot on her nose, he says, ‘I like to paint people’s nose as a foot or a finger to make people laugh. It makes me laugh.’

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