NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
Reg Richardson AM 2014 by Mitch Cairns oil on linen Purchased 2015
Reg Richardson AM, charity fundraiser, left school at fifteen for an office job with the Zinc Corporation mine. He worked for a time with transport company TNT, where he met Greg Poche, before both men were fired. Poche went on to found Startrack Express, and become one of Australia's wealthiest men. Richardson became involved with diverse businesses, including information storage and management, service industries, wholesale pharmaceutical distribution, property development and investment. Having persuaded Poche to donate $40 million toward a purpose-built facility for melanoma research, Reg Richardson was appointe the chairman of the Melanoma Institute Australia in 2007. Richardson further encouraged Poche to donate $10 million for the establishment of the Poche Centre for Indegenous Health at the University of Sydney; together the two men founded the Poche Indigenous Health Network, with research units at Flinders, Melbourne, Western Australia and Queensland universities. A lifelong Catholic and supporter of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Richardson is also a very significant art collector. His own charitable contributions, combined with those he has coaxed from others, comprise some $130 million for the public good; now, Richardson's passion is encouraging well-to-do Australians to follow his philanthropic lead.
Mitch Cairns, painter and cartoonist, completed his undergraduate study at the National Art School, Sydney in 2006, halfway through his three years as studio assistant to the late Adam Cullen. Immediately after graduation he began participating in group shows in Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne; soon, he co-founded an artist-run space, The Cosmic Battle for Your Heart, which operated from 2009 to 2011. Cairns' awards include the Brett Whiteley Traveling Art Scholarship, which included a residency at the Cite internationale des arts, Paris in 2013, and he has been a finalist in many leading art prizes. He was named the Archibald runner-up in both 2014 and 2015, first with this portrait of Richardson and secondly with a portrait of artist Peter Powditch. In 2017 he won the prize with a portrait of his partner Agatha Gothe-Snape.