CHANCE – the Making of Joe Klocek’s Portrait
Quite by chance one rainy afternoon in early 2022, I met Lucinda Barry the CEO of Donate for Life in a café. As the head of the Federal Government Authority that manages Australia’s organ donor registry which helps save so many lives – Lucinda is passionate about getting everyone to talk about organ and tissue donation.
This fortuitous meeting led to a suggestion to approach rising star and Australian actor Joe Klocek to be my next portrait subject. At the time, Joe was starring in the Melbourne Theatre company’s Touching the Void play. Prior to this he had played the younger self of Australian actor, Eric Bana in the memorable and haunting police drama mystery The Dry, directed by Robert Connolly.
Joe was born with a rare genetic liver disorder and underwent a life-altering transplant as a child. Our first face to face meeting took place backstage inside the Sydney Opera House in April 2022 where Joe shared his story about receiving an organ donation and talked passionately about his career as an actor, including the ever-growing demand for online auditions.
In my portrait of Joe, I explore the underlying theme of chance. I endeavored to capture his spirit and character forged in part from his difficult childhood. I wanted to show his relaxed demeanour, inner strength and passion for acting by providing a visual coherence between his past, present and future. To achieve this, I positioned him sitting on the steps of a theatre, next to him on the step is the half-folded movie promotional flyer of the film ‘The Dry’. Behind Joe is his reflection leaning into his career and taking a chance to secure new and interesting roles. In the reflection behind Joe is Sydney’s iconic harbour bridge and a theatre ‘exit’ sign. This hints at the fact that Joe is about to depart Australia, as many rising stars before him. Joe embraces the chances that lie ahead, with his gaze focused and ready to embody his characters, thinking deeply on their complex and layered thoughts and emotions.
I chose the word ‘chance’ as this strongly resonates with Joe and my journey right now. It was by chance that I met Joe and it was by chance that he received his life-changing liver transplant, at the tender age of ten. Prior to this, Joe had been very unwell. Whilst at high school, Joe chose to follow his passion for acting. He made the changes and choices required to realise his vision, never taking his health or opportunities for granted.
More recently, Joe is working to fully realize his potential on the international stage, relocating to the UK. Fully appreciative of his gift of life and genuinely positive in his attitude to do his utmost in all that he does, I find Joe’s courage and commitment to taking the chances he needs to grow very inspiring.
If you would like to give people like Joe a second chance at life, why not reach out and register to donate your organs. It’s a simple one-minute process using the Medicare app on your phone. Your age, medical history, lifestyle, what country you’re from or how healthy you are, does not exclude you from being a donor and giving someone a ‘chance’ for life.