annette bezor artwork

cherry hood

artist in residence 2008

Cherry hood is an Archibald prize winner who has artworks in many important Australian art collections, including the Art Gallery of NSW, National Gallery of Australia, Artbank, and several regional art galleries.

Cherry has become well known for her haunting, large-scale images of young boy’s faces. In the last year she has started to add girls faces to her repertoire, but adolescent boys, with androgenous features, still dominate each exhibition. She is passionate about her subject matter, and feels a strong platonic love for each face.

As viewers, visiting a Cherry Hood exhibition is a voyeuristic experience. The huge eyed faces follow you around the exhibition space, drinking you in and forcing you to maintain eye contact. You feel as though you have intruded on quiet thoughts, perhaps on a dark moment recalled. There are no smiles, and the eyes have a bruised outlook, too knowledgeable for their brief years.

Cherry starts by photographing her subject; some she knows, others she bumps into. She always meets the parents of the child and asks their permission before starting. From each series of 50 or so photographs a couple will inspire a painting. The resulting artwork takes on a new identity and is never a straight forward likeness or portrait.

She noted that she asks “the boys not to smile as I photograph them, and it’s amazing the range of facial expressions you get. I never paint smiling children. That fixes a meaning and I want my work to be more complex than that.”

Cherry paints these images using watercolour on canvas, which is then sealed. The dribbles and runs of the watercolours stain each young face, like permanent tears. In recent years she has added in backgrounds to each image, often butterflies, flowers or plant forms. Each artwork’s title is from a plant, adding a strange poetry to the exhibition: Viola, Vinca, Dionisio, Narcissus and Lathyrus.

Cherry has travelled widely and has exhibited in San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Zurich and Toronto, as well as across Australia. Her art career began in earnest after she graduated with a Masters of Visual Art from the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, in 2000. This was followed by her first solo exhibition in 2001 and winning the prestigious Archibald Prize for Portraiture in 2002. In 2003 she won the Kedumbra Drawing Award and was a finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize, the Dobell Drawing Prize, the Portia Geach Memorial Award, the Whyalla Art Prize, the Hutchins Work on Paper Prize and the Archibald Prize between 2004 and 2007.

Cherry is represented by Tim Olsen Gallery in Sydney, Arc One in Melbourne, Schubert Contemporary in Queensland and by Paul Greenaway in Adelaide.