About the artist
Margaret McKenna trained as an architect, and had her own practice before becoming immersed in family priorities. She has always been a creator, whether it was ceramics, knitting, life drawing or embroidery. She has had one small exhibition of abstract tapestry landscapes in Sydney, but has been around art all her life, being married to Brisbane born artist Noel McKenna, who is the subject of this portrait. She has been constantly developing her own practice, increasingly moving towards portraiture.
About the sitter
Margaret McKenna’s portraiture has developed it’s own signature style. The works are cropped of all that is not essential. She crops it close, to lose the hair, and even sometimes the outside of the face. In this work, of her husband Noel McKenna sleeping, she tries to hint at the turmoil beneath the calm, of the artist and his work. She says: “His works seem simple, but they are of course, multi layered, and there is so much depth in there. That happens when he is sleeping. That’s what I tried to capture.”Noel McKenna grew up in Brisbane. He studied architecture, then switched to art school. His distinctive work focuses on animals, people and objects. McKenna explores both their displacement, as well as their interconnected encounters, interactions, behaviours and relationships. He has achieved considerable success, with numerous solo exhibitions, including recently at QAGOMA in Brisbane. Margaret says: “Art often comes from a dark place… The subject, an artist, my husband, was asleep but clearly it wasn’t a peaceful reverie. Painting the face of a person you have been so close to for 33 years, in the palm of your hand, is an intimate act”.