Jumping into Jack selfie

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Jack Charles obliges a selfie request from Peter Fiorenza in Sydney recently.
Camera IconJack Charles obliges a selfie request from Peter Fiorenza in Sydney recently. Credit: Supplied


Have you ever watched the television show, Anh Do’s Brush with Fame?

Comedian Anh Do has been hosting this unique series for some time now, where he interviews a noteworthy individual while he paints their portrait.

I reckon the show is quite unique and gives viewers a real insight into the individual.

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Those painted have included celebrities such Jack Thompson, Ray Martin and Georgie Parker, along with other famous Australians like; gold medal Paralympic wheelchair racer, Kurt Fearnley and Professor Gordian Fulde.

I have found them all quite fascinating but there was one interview that has stood out, for me, above the many.

A few years back, Anh invited Aboriginal actor, musician and elder, Jack Charles into his studio.

Charles, or Uncle Jack, as he is more affectionately known, has starred on stage and screen, including a role in the classic film; The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.

During his short half-hour chat with Anh, we really got to learn quite a deal about Charles and his extraordinary life.

Part of the Stolen Generation, Charles was raised as the only indigenous child in the Salvation Army Boy’s Home, where he suffered a degree of abuse.

Indeed, his life has taken a number of twists and turns.

Now, you are probably wondering why I am writing about Jack Charles?

Well, I’m currently in Sydney, and a couple of days ago, I arrived at Central station to catch up with some friends.

Walking into the grand old building, I could not help but gaze around at both the beautiful architecture and the people going about their daily lives.

As I stood in the middle of the complex and looked around, I spied a little old, white-bearded fella with bushy hair, sitting down at a table with a coffee.

‘That face looks very familiar,’ I said to myself.

‘What’s his name?

Saw him on TV with Anh Do.’

Suddenly, the name, Jack Charles came into my head but I wasn’t sure, so I got my phone out and went online.

Soon as I wrote in the name, up came a host of photos of a little old, white-bearded fella with bushy hair.

Yep, it was Jack Charles all right. Next, should I go over and talk to him?

I decided to go over and introduce myself.

“Hello, Jack Charles?”

The old fella, looked up and removed his glasses.

“Yes,” he said as he put his hand out to shake mine.

I introduced myself, and he invited me to sit with him.

For the next few minutes I sat and chatted about his remarkable interview with Anh Do, and the amazing portrait that eventuated.

“You know, that painting went on to win the Archibald People’s Choice Award,” he said.

He also told me he was currently on stage as part of the Sydney Festival, and he was just taking a quiet break.

I thanked him for his time, wished him the best with his current project and we parted company.

Well, not before I got the obligatory selfie, of course...

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