The Disappearing Of Julian Assange: The Archibalds

Caitlin Johnstone
3 min readMar 17, 2023

The third mixed media piece in my online art exhibition about the way Assange’s image is being methodically erased from the collective consciousness, “The Disappearing Of Julian Assange: The Archibalds”:

Featuring:

“1000 Paper Tissues”
Oil on canvas board, 10" x 14"

“Assange’s Dad”
Oil on canvas, 60" x 48"

Transcript:

For me, painting is a meditation. It’s a prayer. In a similar way in Japan, it’s said if you fold a thousand origami cranes that makes a powerful prayer of peace and healing.

That got me thinking.

With no new images produced of Julian Assange in the last 18 months, and no official new images published in the last 4 years, the story of Julian Assange is being disappeared.

What would happen if I painted a thousand images of Julian Assange? Would that bring him and all that he stands for back into the public’s consciousness?

And how would I get them into the public arena?

There is a very popular portraiture competition in Australia called the Archibalds. It’s the only art prize Aussies care about. Each year the winner gets lots of news coverage, and many of the other entries do as well.

What if I could get a new image of Assange and turn it into a painting for the Archibalds?

So, over Twitter, I contacted Julian’s wife Stella. I asked her if she could take a pic of him on her next visit. She told me it was impossible, there is no way she could take a camera or a phone into the jail; she was forbidden to even take a paper tissue.

A simple paper tissue. Julian Assange, a journalist and publisher, a man who has committed no crime himself, and simply reported on the crimes of others, is held in a place of such maximum security that his beloved is forbidden from keeping a paper tissue in her pocket to wipe away her kids’ tears.

But how do I get him in the Archibalds though? That’s when I had an idea.

John Shipton is the dad of Julian Assange. He’s been on a mission — make sure they don’t forget about him and to keep Assange’s plight in the public consciousness

Me, too. I really wanted to get a painting of Julian Assange in the Archibalds, Australia’s favorite art competition, but it’s not possible to take a pic of him because he’s in maximum security, and anyway, turns out the primary rule of the Archies is that the subject must have at least one in-person sitting with the artist.

With me over here in Australia and Assange in Belmarsh where the rules won’t allow the taking of pictures, that wasn’t going to happen.

So I had another idea. I invited John Shipton, Assange’s Dad, over for a cup of tea.

And I painted a picture of him.

With his son.

Let’s see what the Archibalds thinks of that!

In case you missed it:

Here’s my first mixed media piece in the series, “The Disappearing Of Julian Assange: In My Wallet”:

Here’s the second, “The Disappearing of Julian Assange: Death To A Story”:

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