Colour Doesn’t Matter will be submitted for the 2017 Archibald Prize. (ABC News: Andie Smith)
After enduring years of racist abuse which dogged the end of his illustrious AFL career, Adam Goodes is once again challenging racism, this time as the subject of a multicolour artwork painted for the nation’s most prestigious portraiture award.
Colour Doesn’t Matter was painted by Darwin artist Megan Adams as a response to the racial abuse of her friend’s Indigenous son, a Year 6 student.
“He’s just the kindest, happy-go-lucky kid so it was really hard to see him so upset,” Ms Adams said.
“Adam Goodes is a fantastic AFL player but he’s also a great speaker, speaking against racism; the troubles he went through also related to experiences my friend’s son had.”
She hopes her portrait of Goodes, to be entered in the Archibald Prize this year, will send a positive message to her friend’s son and the wider community.
“Colour doesn’t matter in people, in races,” Ms Adams said.
“Everyone should be treated the same, with respect — and that’s all that matters.”
Goodes hounded by racist taunts
Goodes was catapulted to the centre of an ugly racism row after he singled out a 13-year-old girl sitting in the crowd of Collingwood fans during a game against the Sydney Swans in the AFL’s Indigenous Round in 2013.
She had called him an “ape”, and although Mr Goodes said he had been “gutted” and hurt, he called for the community to support the girl rather than vilify her.
However, for the next two years he nevertheless became the target of sustained booing at matches and the butt of other racist jokes before retiring in 2015.
He was named Australian of the Year in 2014 for his work fighting racism, and launched the campaign “Racism: it stops with me”.
The AFL finally admitted in March 2016 that it had failed Goodes.
“By the time Adam retired, he had been subject to a level of crowd booing and behaviour that none of our players should ever face,” CEO Gillon McLachlan said.
“The debate that occurred about whether or not the booing was due to racism put further pressure on this great Indigenous leader and one of our game’s greatest champions … I am sorry we acted too slowly.”
Adam Goodes was hounded by racist abuse during the last years of his football career. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
Artist chased Goodes through traffic to win him over
Ms Adams said Goodes agreed to be painted by her after she saw him on the streets of Darwin last year.
“I was walking down the street near Mitchell Street [in Darwin] and Adam Goodes was crossing the road, and I said to my friend, ‘oh my god, that’s Adam Goodes, I want to paint him for the Archibald next year!’ And she said ‘well, go!'” she said.
“I ran across the street, dodging a few cars … and introduced myself.”
Ms Adams said she was “so grateful and excited” Goodes chose her to paint him, as he receives several requests to be painted for the Archibald Prize every year.
She flew to Sydney to sketch Goodes despite being on crutches due to a hurt foot, and said she was “really quite nervous”.
“When he arrived he was just so relaxed and easy to talk to and really lovely,” she said.
“We rolled the canvas out on the floor and I had my bandaged leg on the side and talked about weddings — we both just got married — and family.”
Ms Adams will send her painting down to Sydney to be judged in the Archibald Prize, and hopes she will be in the running when finalists are announced on July 20.
She plans to sell the artwork and donate the proceeds to Adam Goodes’s charity, the GO Foundation.