• Megan Adam's portrait of Adam Goodes, titled Colour Doesn't Matter. (Megan Adams)Source: Megan Adams
Artist Megan Adams has entered the portrait - 'Colour Doesn't Matter' - in the 2017 Archibald Prize, and will sell the painting to benefit Goodes' Indigenous education charity.
Alyssa Braithwaite

1 Jun 2017 - 2:37 PM  UPDATED 1 Jun 2017 - 2:54 PM

A multicolour portrait of AFL player Adam Goodes has been painted to challenge the persistent racist attitudes and abuse the sports icon suffered from throughout his career.

Darwin artist Megan Adams has titled her painting Colour Doesn't Matter, "to raise awareness of racism - that it is still out there and people are still suffering from it".

She was inspired to tackle the issue and paint Goodes for the 2017 Archibald Prize after a friend's Indigenous son was on the receiving end of racial abuse.

"He is so polite and nice and shy, and it just hurt a lot to see him upset like that," Adams tells SBS. 

Adams says as the 2014 Australian of the Year and a legendary AFL player, Goodes is "an incredible and impressive person", but her desire to paint him came from the quieter aspects of his personality.

"He is so polite and nice and shy, and it just hurt a lot to see him upset like that."

"I was quite impressed by the way he carries himself, someone who is kind-hearted and polite to people. He's a supporter of White Ribbon day, and obviously he's an ambassador against racism," she says.

In 2016, the AFL admitted that Goodes was the target of extreme racism during the 2015 season, and they should have acted earlier to protect him from "a level of crowd booing and behaviour that none of our players should ever face".

Adams, who works as the enrolments and marketing officer at Kormilda College in Darwin, got the chance to ask Goodes if she could paint him when she bumped into him in the NT capital one day last July.

"I was like, 'My name is Megan and I would love to paint you for the Archibald next year'. And his first response was, 'Oh ok. Have you painted before?'" Adams says.

After she showed him the portrait of Wayne Bennett she painted for the 2016 Archibald Prize, along with some of her other works, Goodes was impressed and invited her to send his agent a request to paint him for this year's prize.

Among the many requests he receives each year, Adams was selected and she did a live sitting with him in November.

"I was very nervous but he made it just really comfortable," says Adams. "He was really easy to talk to and lovely."

Adams painted Goodes looking off into the distance for Colour Doesn't Matter, with a slash of red to symbolise how words can hurt.

"I love painting with bright colours and so I portrayed his portrait in all different colours because it really doesn't matter, it's about what's on the inside and who you are as a person," she says.

"I wanted to create something a little more serious and thought-provoking for people. Hopefully it gets people thinking about what they do say to other people."

Adams has submitted the portrait to be judged in the Archibald Prize, and hopes to be among the finalists when they are announced on July 20.

Goodes was not available to comment for this story, but Adams says she sent him an image of the final painting and he liked it.

Adams has put the painting up for sale on her website for $5000. She says all of that money will go to Goodes' GO Foundation.

Set up in 2009, it is a national scholarship program which works with companies, schools, universities and other organisations to create a brighter future for Indigenous Australians. 

It is a cause Adams feels strongly about since she starting working at Kormilda College, where one third of the enrollments are Indigenous students, mostly from remote north Australian communities.

"It just really brought home how important education is, especially for Indigenous children that don't have the same opportunities as everybody else," Adams says.

"Seeing that first-hand at Kormilda College and listening to the students and their stories and their backgrounds, you realise how important it is, because these kids really need it."

Find out more about Adam Goodes with episode six of Who Do You Think You Are?, available to view on SBS On Demand below. 

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