Max Walker AM was one of a unique group of sportsmen who has played both Test Cricket for Australia and AFL football for Melbourne Football Club at the MCG. Beyond sport, Mr Walker had reinvented himself many times over. He practised Architecture (an RMIT Graduate), worked for Nine Network's Wide World of Sports as a commentator, he was an author/writer of 14 books with total sales beyond one million copies. During his last years, he worked as a media commentator and motivational speaker.
I first met Max Walker a few years ago at a filming of a TV series Passion to Profession which was produced by my husband John Hipwell. Since then John Hipwell and I maintained our relationship with Max through other projects. One project involved creating an app for mobile phones incorporating fun art projects for children and frazzled parents. At the time, Max was the founding director of a digital engagement and communications firm which was at the cutting edge of the mobile phone App space. For this digital project, our development meeting 'office' was at a cafe 'Yellow Bird' in Chapel St Windsor. After Breakfast and coffee, Max would bring out his mind mapping skills, a graphic way to represent ideas and concepts. Visual thinking and analytical tool generating new ideas as we progressed. I loved his colourful drawings and saw them as artistic expressions. As we were sitting at the outdoor cafe table, near a tram stop, the people getting off the tram, strangers, would call out to Max for attention. He of course responded with his usual huge welcoming smile and a wave.
With this experience in mind, I asked Max if he could sit for me at the same cafe. John Hipwell, joined me to record and film the process of creating what was to be a shaped cut-out portrait. Once again the long black and short black coffee cups were ordered as I began to draw Max within this familiar urban environment. The trams kept passing by and strangers were still coming up to Max to say hello. We had two sittings at the cafe and a third final one in my studio.
I was striving to meld the physical characteristics with the essence of my sitter. My challenge was to adhere to an abstracted sensibility with the portrait but still maintain a recognisable likeness. I wanted the portrait to go further than just capturing a faithful likeness. It was not until I extricated the painted figure from its rectangular edges with an electric router that the portrait came to life and took on a life of its own. To my surprise Max's hands became a focal point expressing the man who is a master communicator and an inspiring, motivational, speaking professional.
Shaped cut-out, acrylic paint on panel board