A Melbourne artist who painted P.E Nation founder Pip Edwards for the Archibald has shared the details of her "very stressful" experience with PEDESTRIAN.TV, with the company's staff allegedly attempting to stop the portrait both being entered in the prize and then sold to an interested buyer.
Lauren Ferrier, 25, first asked Pip over Instagram if she'd be willing to sit for the painting. But months after Pip enthusiastically agreed to sit for the portrait, Lauren's painting was criticised by Pip's PR because she apparently made the fashion designer look "much older beyond her years". Lauren described the comment "heartbreaking".
Lauren had gotten in touch with P.E Nation's global PR manager, Louise Gaffikin earlier this year asking for the "sitter's statement" form to be signed by Pip so she could submit her portrait to the prestigious portrait prize. She told PEDESTRIAN.TV she had forgotten to bring the form to the sitting in September last year.
But Louise would not provide the signed form until Pip had seen the portrait. Lauren sent through a photo of the portrait which she had been working on for 10 months, noting this was not usual practice. Images of the portrait were also available on her Instagram.
"Thank you so much for sending through the imagery, I am sure you have been working hard on getting this together," Louise replied.
"We won't be able to sign the consent form for the image to be put forward, having worked so closely with Pip over the past 3 years, I just know she will not align with the imagery.
"I have to be honest and say she looks much older beyond her years in this photo. I don't think she could resonate with this painting and having it being put to the public."
She suggested that Lauren redo the portrait "with a more youthful feel" but admitted she had not shown Pip the image. She also asked for a photo of the portrait to be taken down form Instagram.
Lauren replied to say she was "disappointed" in Louise's response and that she only required the signature in order to meet the Archibald's entry requirements, not to signal Pip's approval of the portrait. "I have put my life and soul into this painting for 10 months," Lauren wrote. "I'm sure Pip wouldn't want to be seen as a woman who would stop a young artist from pursuing their dreams."
While Pip did eventually sign the sitter's statement, Lauren found herself at odds with P.E Nation staff again when she attempted to sell the portrait on Instagram. She sold the painting for $400 earlier this month and sent it to the buyer before a payment had been made.
The buyer received a call from P.E Nation's managing director, after her roommate shared a photo of the painting to a friend who worked at the activewear company.
"I have just received a very serious call from the managing director of P.E that it is illegal for me to buy this painting as Pip Edwards gave no authority for a portrait picture of herself to be sold, only to be put forward for the Archibald prize," the buyer wrote to Lauren. P.E Nation allegedly demanded the painting be forfeited to the company.
"Pip's authority ended when she agreed to be the subject of my painting," Ferrier replied, and eventually, she was paid for her work. A P.E Nation employee spoke to the buyer and said the company was concerned the painting would end up with the wrong people, but ultimately conceded, "Pip feels comforted the painting has been sold to someone loyal and who genuinely loves the brand."
"I'm just sort of at a point where I'm so over it," Lauren concluded, describing the experience as "very stressful" and adding it was "pretty disappointing" the company tried to stop her entering the competition.
"It's fine if she [Pip] didn't like it, I don't care that she doesn't like it," Lauren said. "But to [try to] stop me from entering [the Archibald] at all and to just let it sit there and gather dust, after [they] know how hard I worked on it, how much money I put into it — that was the worst part about it for me."
Louise told PEDESTRIAN.TV in a statement: "Pip did not prevent the painting from being shown at the Archibald, our understanding was the painting was submitted unfortunately however not chosen for final selection."
Read the full story at PEDESTRIAN.TV, including emails from Louise and Lauren's Instagram Stories about the portrait.