A WAGGA police sergeant has swapped her uniform for a painting smock to enter a portrait into this year's prestigious Archibald Prize.
The Riverina Police District's Sergeant Maggie Deall has leant on art for years as a therapeutic outlet from the stresses of being on the force, but taking part in the Archibalds was a first for her.
"It's such a prestigious award, I always look at it as being for 'real' artists, famous artists, so I am extremely excited but also so nervous," she said.
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Sergeant Deall captured Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke in her portrait, inspired by the politician's "hard work and integrity".
"I just think Steph is so inspirational, she is always on the go, always focused on doing the best for her region," she said.
In contrast to her on-the-go lifestyle, Sergeant Deall said she captured Ms Cooke in a different light.
"I wanted to capture her as a person at rest," she said.
"So I have her sitting on a lounge with her two rescue dogs Lolly and Tilly. There's something about the way you relax with animals, so it all fit perfectly."
Ms Cooke said it was "humbling" to be a part of.
"Maggie is proof that the arts can thrive in regional NSW and I know she will inspire other artists from rural and regional communities to enter the Archibald Prize in years to come," she said.
"While I am the subject of Maggie's work, what is being celebrated here is the talent of an artist. I am in awe of what Maggie has produced and it was a true honour to be asked to sit for this portrait."
The oil painting stands at 122 by 152 centimetres. Sergeant Deall said, of the 500-odd entries, 50 would be chosen to hang in the Art Gallery of NSW.
"I'm just honoured to be in it at this point, and I know people say that and it sounds a bit cheesy, but there are some amazing artists that go in, so I'm blessed to even have an entry," she said.
The portrait is one of many pieces of work produced by Sergeant Deall, who has also begun an exciting new venture in the creative sphere.
Her own gallery, The Little Yellow House, is set to open on Tompson Street as part of Eastern Riverina Art's RENEW Wagga initiative.
"I'll have my own work on display as well as other local artists' work, and I will be painting a bit on site too," Sergeant Deall said.
The RENEW program will bring creatives of all kinds into empty shop fronts in Wagga for a temporary leg-up to existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Opening for a three-month period, Sergeant Deall said she wanted to take the gallery a step further.
"I'm going to be holding workshops, and the first I want to run is just for emergency services, first responders and healthcare workers," she said.
"It has been a stressful 12 months for those people in particular, so I'd like to run a 12 week program, one night a week, creating a safe space for them to chat with like-minded people which is super important in our line of work."
The gallery will open towards the end of next month.
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