Internationally acclaimed Archibald prize-winning artist, and revered icon of the Shire, Craig Ruddy, died suddenly last week, leaving a community in shock and mourning.
The 53-year old died peacefully in the arms of his soul-mate, Roberto Meza Mont, in their hinterland property at the Pocket, on January 4, after a three week battle with COVID-19.
Craig had pre-existing lung issues from childhood.
Roberto, his partner of 20 years, told The Echo, ‘Craig is the love of my life. From our first kiss to his last breath, I will be forever grateful to share life with this divine human who gave so much to our communities. I will carry him in my heart forever more’.
In a recent article, Craig said, ‘If it wasn’t for Roberto, I would probably be on my own in a little cabin in the wilderness, distant from humanity. I’m more of an introvert, Roberto’s an extrovert. I need my quiet time and Roberto thrives on being surrounded by people. We are so different but it just works’.
The contemporary artist’s health issues were well documented.
He said at one time, ‘As a child I had a rare lung condition where my lungs would haemorrhage, leaving me anaemic and short of breath’.
‘It slowed me down and put me into a strange euphoric state. As a result, I learnt to sit and observe’.
It’s a trait this gentle man carried through his life, an ability to capture the subtlety most of us miss.
Zest for life
Renowned for his community input, zest for life and hospitality, the harmony and respect this couple shared over a 20-year partnership was inspiring.
Craig’s iconic portraits of Bruce Pascoe and David Gulpili adorn the walls of their living room, a daily reminder of his compassion for the Indigenous plight.
Recognition of Australian Indigenous culture was a strong driver for the self-confessed empath.
His Gulpilil piece is acclaimed as profoundly important for our nation, with its timely message of Indigenous recognition and reconciliation.
‘One thing we shared that made our relationship work is a disdain for status, money and ego’, says Roberto.
‘Our core values centres around kindness – soul, spirit, connection. This is how I chose to remember the time we shared’.
‘To me, it is not about having your name plastered in newspapers, or millions in the bank’, Craig said in his most recent interview before Christmas.
‘Happiness is not external’.
The life they wove together over two decades, reflected the masterful art that won Craig much acclaim.
Like all the best love stories, it was crafted with depth. passion, creativity and an eye for detail.
‘There are similarities in how I create in both art and life’, mused Craig.
‘Finding balance and harmony in the differences is part of any great composition’.
As a gifted magical man, he could create balance in the contrasts.
He was a special man who treated every day as a piece of art.
R.I.P Craig. You will be sorely missed.