It’s been over three decades since they last saw one another, but this didn’t stop renowned Melbourne-based artist Adam Cusack from reaching out to his old school friend, Juliet Potter, via Facebook to ask her to be the subject of his portrait entry for Australia’s most eminent art competition, The Archibald Prize.

The result, his portrait ‘You Can’t Silence Her’, is both a testament to Cusack’s admiration for his old classmate in her efforts to raise awareness for the current epidemic of homeless Australian women through Potter’s charity The White Caravan Foundation www.WhiteCaravan.org.au; but also pays homage and appreciation to his own mother, a single parent of three.

Cusack and Potter, who both attended Cairns High School in Far North Queensland, had kept in touch through other friends and on Facebook, yet had not caught up in person until Adam sent her an unexpected message out of the blue, “Hey, I was thinking you would be a good subject for the Archibald portrait. I haven’t checked the deadline, but what do you think?”. To which Juliet replied, “I think you may have accidently sent this message to the wrong person”.

According to Juliet: “I didn’t realise Adam had been following my journey in any detail regarding the launch of The White Caravan Foundation, the statistics of women’s homelessness and of course my own experiences as a single parent. Within this, I’ve learned he has had his own experiences and is equally passionate about the issue. I was obviously very honoured to have Adam ask to paint a portrait of me as he is an incredible artist, and the only paintings I have of myself are my children’s very colourful early-childhood works of art!”

“I was not only super excited to catch up with him after so many years, but equally at the prospect of exploring the art world as a platform to raise community awareness about the extremely vital message of women’s homelessness. I didn’t know what to expect in the process of being painted, either, so I really found the entire odyssey of the artist fascinating and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was a big task for Adam to take on and the result is just beyond my imagination.”

“I wanted to work with Juliet as a subject because of her authenticity, she truly wants to bring about awareness and social change for homeless women. As a child, I saw first-hand how compromised a woman becomes when she has to escape a bad relationship, so I wanted to add my voice to her cause” said Adam

If Adam places in the competition, he will be donating proceeds of any winnings to The White Caravan Foundation.

Source: Archibald Prize