The artist who painted Lara Bingle for the Archibald Prize knew nothing about the reality TV star before she sat down in front of her yesterday, but described her as a "strong little unit".

"I don't watch TV or follow social media," New Zealand-born Pool told "But there's a lot of strength in her spirit."

Bingle said it was a "dream come true" for her to be painted for the historic prize.

"This is where magic happens. #archibald #iwaspaintedtoday#gabriellepool #dreamcometrue #cantwait," Bingle excitedly tweeted yesterday alongside a photo of the studio where she was being painted.

The 25-year-old socialite was suggested to Pool at the eleventh hour by mutual friend and photographer Simon Lekias, who brought Bingle to a Woolloomooloo warehouse yesterday for the sitting.

Pool's friends Jon Stevens of Noiseworks and TV presenter Ruby Rose had also agreed to sit for the artwork but were unavailable in time for the deadline.

Bingle was the first white person Pool had ever painted. She has previously only had Africans and indigenous subjects pose for her.

Having lived with tribes in Africa for several months on four separate occasion, Pool has traditionally recorded the world’s vanishing tribes in places such as Ethiopia and Australia’s Northern Territory and was invited to Africa by Nelson Mandela to work on the Unity Series in 2005.

"It was good to be able to branch out and do something completely out of my comfort zone - painting someone who's white and painting someone I know nothing about, face-to-face in the studio," she said.

The ink-on-canvas portrait was completed in one sitting, but the pair "hung out" for several hours, eating grapes in the studio and getting to know each other.

"She was very soft, very earthy and raw and had no make-up on. There was no distance between us. She was very gracious and very patient. It was enjoyable for both of us."

Despite entering the Archibald Prize on two previous occasions - Deni Hines in 2011 and Jimmy Little in 2012 - Pool has little confidence that her portrait of Bingle will make a finalist.

"People have been working on these portraits for months and months and I'm not really in the 'art dealing club'," she said.

The Archibald Prize is exhibited from March until June at The Art Gallery of NSW with awards given to the best portrait "preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics".

It’s a big coup for the former star of reality show Being Lara Bingle with past muses for Archibald Prize paintings including artist Margaret Olley, actor David Wenham, radio announcer John Laws, TV journalist Jana Wendt, actor Jack Thompson, politician Malcolm Turnbull and actress Deborah Mailman.

Final submissions must be made by Friday with finalists and the Packing Room Prize winner announced on March 14 and the winner on March 22.

Source: Herald Sun
Published Date: 6th March 2013