It was audacious. The idea was simple. Make the idea so big, it couldn’t fail.
Joshua measured the height and length of the Great Hall at the NGV. He was going to paint using small canvases and mural that would span the entire brick wall. The light from the stain-glass ceiling would play with his broad strokes from the palette knife.
It was going to be a portrait of Melbourne, that much he knew.
He and Doug got support for the installation, with a few favours being called in. This was going to be the ascendancy of his career. When the art world would need to take him seriously. He wasn’t just the young artist who won the Archibald on his first attempt. He was to be a serious artist, with a capital a.
The deadline, when first negotiated, seemed like a lifetime away. He was impatient to already have the accolades.
Months past as he sketched ideas. He was trying to tell the story of Melbourne from Batman’s time to the present.
And then he stumbled on a drawing by Caravaggio of a man from the perspective of his feet looking up.
The design came in one fluid motion. An indigenous man stood towering over the skyscrapers of modern Melbourne. Over his shoulder was a spear. He was about to step, but was unsure of his footing. There was a disorientation in the way he surveyed his country.
The cityscape would appear dense and impenetrable as it sprawled the length of the Great Hall.
Joshua worked feverishly in the time remaining, completing the final canvas just as the courier pulled up to his studio.