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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Acacius (Stigmata) - Tony Carden

1991
AñA Wojak

oil and gold leaf on cedar panel (support: 121.5 cm x 103.0 cm)

Anthony Carden (1961–1995), activist, studied acting in New York in the early 1980s before returning home to work in theatre, film and television in Sydney and Melbourne. After being diagnosed with AIDS, he joined ACTUP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and became a lobbyist for better standards of medical care, improved hospital facilities, and effective safe sex education. He was also a prominent advocate for HIV/AIDS sufferers and LGBTQI+ rights more generally. Together with Clover Moore, then the Member for Bligh in the NSW Legislative Assembly, he helped raise $1 million for the refurbishment of St Vincent’s Hospital’s Ward 17 South, Australia's first dedicated ward for HIV/AIDS patients. He died five years after his diagnosis.

AñA Wojak met Carden at an ACTUP meeting in 1991, at which time she'd begun working on a series exploring ideas of sainthood and martyrdom. She painted Carden in the guise of Saint Acacius, an early Christian martyr, as he was 'someone who was working for the rights of others whilst at the same time suffering himself..' Employing gold leaf and a blue paint derived from lapis lazuli, the work is intended to evoke Byzantine icons and Italian Renaissance altarpieces. The portrait was displayed in Don't Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS at the National Gallery of Australia in 1994–1995; at Carden’s wake; and later in Ward 17 South before being purchased by Carden's mother, Lesley Saddington.

Gift of Lesley Saddington 2015
© AñA Wojak

Artist and subject

AñA Wojak (age 37 in 1991)

Anthony Charles Carden (age 30 in 1991)

Subject professions

Activism

Donated by

Lesley Saddington (1 portrait)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Stigma stigmata

Magazine article by Angus Trumble, 2015

Angus Trumble provides poignant context for Aña Wojak’s portrait of Tony Carden.

Electric!

Portraits that pop!

Previous exhibition, 2018

Celebrate the Gallery’s 20th birthday summer with Electric! Portraits that pop! The collection exhibition features a mix of bright, bold and colourful paintings, prints and photographs, and buoyant video portraits.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency