Guy Morgan is finalist in 2013 Archibald Prize

9 April 2013

Sydney College of Arts alumnus, Guy Morgan, is a finalist in this year's Archibald Prize, with his self-portrait entitled 'Guy Morgan with Peter Pan after retinal detachment'.

"My retinal detachment occurred more than 18 months ago and this is how I look through my damaged eye. I started creating this work with a series of simple charcoal drawings. I would observe only with the affected eye and then make marks solely using my good one. That way I could accurately gauge what was happening," says Morgan, who graduated with a Master of Studio Arts (Painting) in 2011.

"However, a psychological barrier stopped me from drawing the full extent of the difference between what I viewed with my left and right eye. My mind would 'pretty things up', rendering me unable to accurately represent the world I observed through deficient vision," he says.

Between 1974 and 1978, Morgan was trained at England's St Martins School of Art and London College of Printing. In 2003, he returned to oil painting after an absence of 30 years. He completed his Master's degreeat the University of Sydney in 2011, and now works as a freelance advertising and marketing creative consultant.

"Over the last 10 years, my art practice has become a mix of the intentional and the accidental. The background in this self-portrait is painted with an eye dropper, as is most of my work," says Morgan. "The speckled surface is reminiscent of the sight loss I faced as my vision deteriorated over a few short hours in 2011. I first experienced a descending grey shadow, then sparks, colour specks and yellow flashes as my retina began detaching."

Morgan suffered from a detached retina in late 2011, which has permanently affected his eyesight. He says the experience inspired him to investigate the effect on his art both physically and psychologically, and to publicise the early warning signs of retinal displacement. Last year, his self-portrait was the runner-up for the People's Choice Award run by Art Access Australia, which is the peak national body for arts and disability.

"Initially, the Peter Pan figure in the picture was not intentional," he says of the little black silhouette dancing atop the crease in his brow. "My wife identified him after I completed an earlier study."

The Archibald Prize isconsideredAustralia's most important portraiture prize. Morgan's painting is on display with the other finalists at the Art Gallery of NSW until June 2, after which it will tour to eight regional art galleries in Vic and NSW until June 2014.

View the other 2013 Archibald Prize finalists at the Art Gallery of New South Wales' website.