Discover the stories behind the faces of Melbourne’s street magazine vendors in The Big Issue portraits, a free exhibition now on show at State Library Victoria.
In celebration of The Big Issue magazine’s 20th anniversary, Melbourne artist Virginia Hodgkinson has painted a series of portraits of local vendors, inspired by their personal histories.
The idea for this project originated from Virginia’s desire to work with local communities. She took to the streets of Melbourne, Geelong and interstate to meet and sketch vendors, learning their stories along the way.
“With each remarkable person I met and worked with, I was touched by their story. Each has their own and deserves to be heard. I have learnt a great deal with this project, particularly not judging people by their situation.”
“I see the paintings as an acknowledgement of a group of people that are not often noticed, let alone celebrated. I hope that my work portrays the vendors with dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Hodgkinson.
The paintings in The Big Issue portraits are based on a series of sketches drawn by Virginia earlier this year. Virginia met with vendors at their fortnightly magazine launch or on the streets to listen to their stories while she sketched.
Virginia worked with diverse vendors with extraordinary stories including Kate, a qualified chef in Melbourne who had to give up her chance of becoming a sous chef when she started having seizures, and Andrew, a Geelong vendor who lived on the streets from the age of 14 until about 26.
Featuring 17 portraits of vendors accompanied by their personal statements, The Big Issues portraits is now on display in Palmer Hall until 20 November 2016. Presented in partnership with The Big Issue.