Artist Jeremy Eden won the Archibald People’s Choice Award with an actor portrait samuel Johnson.
A record 35,268 gallery visitors voted for the 2022 prize, the most since the prize was first offered in 1988.
After receiving the award at the Art Gallery of NSW, Eden said he was delighted to win the popular vote for the second consecutive year as an Archibald finalist.
“It’s been life changing…I just hope I can grow with it and be one of those people that’s here every year,” he told AAP.
Being a finalist alone means more commissions, and he hopes Wednesday’s win will lead to gallery representation.
“I went from being an up-and-coming artist with nothing to back me up, to people who kind of know who I am, which is lovely.”
The Sydney-based entertainer first met Johnson in 2021 while the actor was recovering from a near-fatal car crash.
He was wearing a neck brace when they first spoke on a video call, and the couple bonded over their shared experience of losing close family members to cancer.
Eden’s mother died of the disease in 2008, while Johnson founded cancer charity Love Your Sister with her sister Connie before her death in 2017.
The winning portrait features Johnson holding a photo of Eden’s mother, Annette, after the actor encouraged Eden to include her personal story in the portrait as well.
The painter flew to Melbourne for a live session with Johnson, then worked six hours a day for 10 weeks to complete the portrait.
“People talked and they liked Jeremy the most,” Johnson said in a statement.
“He is an extraordinary storyteller, he has a huge heart and he fully deserves this recognition.”
Love your Sister has a significant following and has raised over $15 million for cancer research.
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes are on display at the gallery until August 28, and the Archibald finalists will tour regionally in Victoria and NSW until July 2023.