Commissioned by Australian War Memorial to paint a portrait of Corporal Daniel Keighran
Corporal Daniel Keighran deployed to Afghanistan in February 2010 with the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. On 24 August 2010, Corporal Keighran was part of a combined Australian and Afghan patrol, when they came under fire by a numerically superior and coordinated enemy attack from multiple firing points in three separate locations. Corporal Keighran lead and mentored his team to effectively suppress enemy firing points, while exposing himself to persistent enemy fire. Corporal Keighran was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia on Thursday 1 November 2012 for a most conspicuous act of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril at Derapet, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, as part of the Mentoring Task Force One on Operation SLIPPER. [Source: https://www.army.gov.au/our-people/victoria-cross-for-australia-recipients/corporal-dan-keighran-vc]
Juan Ford’s intention with this larger than life size portrait of Daniel Keighran was to create an immersive experience for the viewer. The indistinct expansive sky could equally situate Keighran in Afghanistan or Australia. The artist had only one day to meet and work with his subject. His first impressions were of a ‘good guy’, a shy and humble man who has done something extraordinary. Ford wanted the physical scale of the painting to allow the viewer to conceptually step into Keighran’s shoes for a moment. This work celebrates more than an individual story of courage and bravery, it also represents the national story.