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Love, art and friendship

Taken from, Aug 2, 2020

Malcolm is at Estia Health in Heidelberg West, where numerous cases of COVID-19 have been recorded. The 75-year-old is one of them, though thankfully, his family and friends say his case is mild. What the virus has meant, however, is Malcolm has been confined to his room for the past fortnight.

"It's really been terrible for Malcolm who is normally so active" Camillo De Luca, a Melbourne artist and gallery owner, said of his friend.

Casting about for ways to help keep Malcolm occupied, Mr De Luca hit upon the idea of sending him a blank canvas. The plan is for them to enter the prestigious Archibald Prize this year.

It's a well-worn pattern in an unusual friendship that has lasted more than a decade.

"We are going to try to win the Archibald. I contacted the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg and he was very obliging and very happy to be a virtual sitter for Malcolm. That was wonderful of him," Mr De Luca said. In 2016, the artist was named a finalist in the Archibald Prize for his own portrait of Mr Frydenberg.

"I dropped off a canvas to Malcolm and some photos and now he has something to think about and do while he's so isolated there," Mr De Luca said.

He hasn't been able to visit with Malcolm since March, but the pair speak on the phone or Zoom most days, trading jokes and making up silly songs to keep themselves occupied.

I became a very close friend with Malcolm – we just sort of hit it off.

The pair met in 2009 when Mr De Luca was volunteering at Arts Project Australia, a gallery studio which supports artists with intellectual disabilities. Malcolm, who was born with an intellectual disability, is a keen painter and attended the studio three days a week, right up until lockdown in March.

"I became a very close friend with Malcolm – we just sort of hit it off. "He's got this incredible strength and imagination. He is a very positive person but he is also very funny and clever. "Sometimes with a couple of words he will just say something that is so incredibly smart, he'll just nail it."

We are going to try to win the Archibald.

Speaking to from his room in isolation, Malcolm said he was missing his friends and family "like heck". But, for now, he has an Archibald Prize deadline to meet.

Read the full story from 9news here.

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