Dr Mark Gianoutsos has known Stella Jackson since she was three weeks old. (ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
“You can see that he is a good person; his hands are magic. What you don’t see is his kind and generous heart — that is what I see.”
That is how Stella Jackson described her portrait of her close friend and plastic surgeon Dr Mark Gianoutsos which is hanging in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Those magic hands have performed several surgeries on Stella, who was born without a jaw bone in a profound form of craniofacial microsomia.
One of those operations involved taking bone from her hip to reconstruct the right side of her jaw.
Stella’s portrait, What’s up Doc?, received an honourable mention in the 2017 Young Archie. (Supplied: Art Gallery of NSW)
So when the 12-year-old decided to enter the Young Archie this year, the junior art competition of the annual Archibald Prize, she had no hesitation about who her subject was going to be.
“The Young Archie is about drawing someone special, and Dr Mark is special to me.
“Most of the other entries are of family members, but Dr Mark is special in a different way to my family.
“He’s known me since I was three weeks old and he’s always been there for me; he’s done all of my surgeries and never does anything without my input.”
The Young Archie, now in its fifth year, received more than 2,000 entries which were whittled down to 20 finalists across four age groups.
Stella’s portrait was among those to receive an honourable mention, but the significance didn’t hit her straight away,
“In truth when I found out I was sick, so I was like, ‘meh’, but then I went to school and they had an assembly speech about it and put it on the board and then I realised it was a big deal,” Stella said.
It took Stella several rough sketches from photos of Dr Gianoutsos before she was happy with a drawing to develop.
“I made a risky decision to put watercolours on it and it turned out pretty good,” she said.
“When you look at a painting you can’t see their personality, so when I painted him I tried to portray those personalities in the painting.
“He’s a calm guy.”
Stella Jackson entered a portrait in the Young Archie for the first time this year. (ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
Dr Gianoutsos, who is the head of the Sydney cranial facial unit at Prince of Wales Hospital, said he was “very honoured” when Stella asked him to be the subject of her portrait.
“I knew it was a very big deal for her and I knew she was a very accomplished artist and I knew she would do a very good job of it,” he said.
“Our relationship has been surgical on one level but more profound at another level.
“I have done a number of operations on her to make her facial difference less problematic and help her from a functional and an appearance viewpoint.
“I admire her greatly as a young lady and she’s a terrific person.”
Stella is an all rounder and loves to paint and draw as well as play sport. (ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
Stella is set to start high school next year, and while she’s feeling nervous she is particularly looking forward to all the sport she can play as she already does running, tennis, swimming and soccer.
What is also in her sights though is one day upgrading from the Young Archie to the Archibald Prize.
“Maybe later,” she laughed.
“[Drawing] got a bit tiring after awhile.”
The winners of the Young Archie awards will be announced on Saturday.