A Portrait Of Tony Abbott Was Entered In The Archibald Prize & Is That A Knife In Someone’s Back?

A portrait of former PM Tony Abbott, which was entered in the Archibald Prize by Sydney artist Simon Fieldhouse, has one very, very interesting detail in the background: a man stabbed in the back with a huge knife.

The detail is an extremely telling reference to Abbott’s term as leader of the Liberal Party – and eventually, the country – but when asked about who the faint figure was supposed to be, the artist embraced leaving it open for interpretation.

“You’ve got to figure it out yourselves,” a stoked Fieldhouse told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

A fair few Prime Ministers from both parties have been accused of stabbing their predecessors in the back in recent years, but for Abbott, there’s one guy who looms large in his rear-view mirror…

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As first reported in The Australian, the stab-in-in-the-back motif, along with rosary beads which kind of look like knuckle dusters, are just part of Fieldhouse’s habit of hiding cheeky little Easter eggs inside his paintings.

“If you just do a painting of a person to be quite honest, it’s boring,” he said.

“I’ve always put little humorous character things in. So I just decided to put something in.”

Simon Fieldhouse’s portrait of a “weather-beaten” Tony Abbott. (Supplied)

The painting was commissioned by St John’s College at the University of Sydney, where Abbott himself lived in 1976.

It’s set to hang above the dining hall, reminding residents about one of the college’s most famous (and controversial) alumni.

“The college itself wanted it covered Perspex so that if [uni students] throw food, the painting won’t be damaged,” Fieldhouse added.

The commission is what sparked the portrait in the first place. The Archibald entry, really, is just an added bonus.

“I’ve got zero chance of getting in the Archibald because you don’t come more unfashionable than me as an artist, and you don’t get more unfashionable than Tony Abbott,” Fieldhouse joked.

Judging by the feedback so far, it’s clear only one of those things is true.

It was Tony Abbott’s own idea to include the rosary beads, and now they’ve ended up resembling knuckle dusters. (Supplied)

In case you couldn’t tell, Fieldhouse isn’t the biggest fan of Abbott’s prime ministership. He said he supports action on climate change, marriage equality and, well, respects women.

But the painting isn’t supposed to be a condemnation of Abbott, either. The two have known each other since their uni days, and Fieldhouse said that while they’re not mates, the former PM is actually quite friendly in person.

The painter said Abbott had “no qualms” about this cheeky little addition, even though he wasn’t in town to see the original work.

“But he’s got pretty broad shoulders, you know. I don’t think he’d mind at all.”