P.E Nation founder Pip Edwards emerges after leaked emails revealed her publicist had refused to sign off on a portrait for entry to the Archibald Prize as it made her look ‘old’
Pip Edwards’ camp has broken its silence after leaked emails revealed how the P.E Nation founder’s staff refused to sign off on an Archibald Prize entry portrait because it made her look ‘old’.
Edwards, 40, avoided taking questions by hugging her mobile phone to her face on Thursday – as her besieged public relations chief Louise Gaffikin finally addressed the controversy.
Artist Lauren Ferrier, 25, told Daily Mail Australia overnight that Edwards had been ‘overwhelmingly keen to have me paint her’ for one of the country’s most prestigious portrait competitions.
The designer – cricket legend Michael Clarke’s new lover – flew down to Melbourne for a sitting in September 2019 and posted an excited message about it to Instagram.
But almost a year later, her top aide Ms Gaffikin refused to have Edwards sign off on the finished product – as it didn’t ‘align’ with the high-profile designer’s image and made her look ‘older beyond her years’.
Ms Gaffikin issued a statement on Thursday, saying: ‘Pip is a creative individual. She has a wealth of ideas, thoughts and openness.
‘There is always room for wide interpretation and personal subjectiveness when it comes to artistic expression and it is often subjective.
‘She appreciates the artist’s take on her, hence why the portrait was submitted for consideration.’
But the portrait did not get submitted without drama, documented in leaked emails.
Edwards hugged her mobile phone to her ear when she was approached at her warehouse in inner Sydney on Thursday
In late 2019, the P.E Nation founder sat with artist Lauren Ferrier to have her portrait taken for consideration in the 2020 Archibald Prize. Above, Edwards’ excited Instagram post
This is one of Ms Ferrier’s initial sketches of the activewear founder that went on to become the basis of her portrait
The finished product that Ms Gaffikin said in a leaked email appeared to make Edwards look ‘older beyond her years’
Ms Ferrier said Edwards had excitedly flown down to Melbourne to be sketched late last year.
The activewear label co-founder even shared a picture on her Instagram story, captioned: ‘My first sitting for The Archibald Prize with @lauren_ferrier’, plus a celebratory hand gesture.
And the artist told Melbourne’s Herald Sun about how much respect she had for Edwarsd.
‘I always thought she’s at the top of her game in terms of fashion, being a single mum and a girl boss,’ she said.
But months later, Ms Ferrier was in for a rude shock when she emailed Edwards, 40, in July to ask for her signature on an entry form.
The signature was to confirm they had met, as per the Archibald’s conditions of entry. The artist had forgotten to bring the form to their initial meeting.
Emails obtained by Daily Mail Australia show that P.E Nation’s global public relations manager, Louise Gaffikin, replied to Ms Ferrier on July 27 asking her to share an image of the portrait itself.
‘Pip just needs visibility on the image first,’ Ms Gaffikin said.
After Ms Ferrier sent a picture through, the publicist replied again on July 30, thanking her for her work – before going on to suggest the portrait wasn’t right.
According to the correspondence, Ms Gaffikin wrote: ‘I am sure you have been working hard on getting this together.
‘Which makes this email so hard to send, however to be transparent and honest, we won’t be able to sign the consent form for the image to be put forward,’ she said.
‘Having worked so closely with Pip over the past 3 years, I just know she will not align with the imagery, I have to be honest and say she looks much older beyond her years in this photo.
‘I don’t think she could resonate with this painting and having it being put out to the public.’
The emails said Ms Gaffikin then went on to ask for a ‘solution’ – perhaps a portrait where Edwards looked younger.
She also requested the artist delete an existing picture of the portrait from her Instagram page.
On left is the email Ms Ferrier alleges was sent to her by Pip Edwards’ publicist Louise Gaffikin at the end of July, after she sought a signature on a form confirming they had met in person. On right is Ms Ferrier’s reply
Power couple: Edwards is seen above with her partner, cricket legend Michael Clarke, at Noosa earlier this year
Ms Gaffikin said such a solution would be ‘just so she (Edwards) knows there is a new painting that can be done and submitted, perhaps with a more youthful feel, a true expression of Pip.
‘Happy to send updated portrait imagery of Pip for reference,’ she wrote.
Ms Ferrier said she was ‘heartbroken’ by the reply. She told Ms Gaffikin she was very disappointed with the response, and clarified that she didn’t need Edwards ‘approval’ to submit the painting.
The signature was simply to prove they had met, as per the competition’s conditions, she said. Edwards eventually acquiesced and signed the form.
But there was yet another twist to come. A few weeks ago, Ms Ferrier posted to her Instagram story that the portrait was for sale.
Activewear icon Pip Edwards needed ‘visibility’ on the Archibald Prize submission, Ms Ferrier was allegedly told
This is the message the purchaser – a woman named Jess – sent to Ms Ferrier after being sent the $400 portrait
Part of Ms Ferrier’s reply. She goes on to warn the purchaser she will approach the media if she does not pay
A woman contacted Ms Ferrier and signalled her interest in buying it.
‘My friend just me this as she knows how much I love Pip,’ the prospective buyer said.
‘How much are you selling it for?’
They negotiated a price – $400 – and Ms Ferrier sent it off in the post while awaiting her payment.
However, screenshots show the woman then claimed to Ms Ferrier that she had received a call from P.E Nation, warning her that Edwards had not signed off on her picture being sold and therefore she ‘couldn’t process the payment.’
Outraged Ms Ferrier demanded payment and warned she would get the media involved.
‘Pip’s authority ended when she agreed to be the subject of the painting,’ the artist told the buyer.
The purchaser replied that Ms Gaffikin was her roommate’s friend and later added that she had a ‘really nice chat with PE’.
She said Edwards was now ‘comforted that the painting has been sold to someone loyal and who genuinely loves the brand.
‘They were concerned someone may purchase and then try and on sell to make money on the painting and not end up in good hands.
‘They now no (sic) I have no intention of doing this and plan on keeping (it)’.
The woman who purchased the painting later told Ms Ferrier that Edwards was ‘comforted that the painting has been sold to someone loyal who genuinely loves the brand’
In an interview, Ms Ferrier told Daily Mail Australia she had worked for months on the portrait.
She said she didn’t hear from Edwards again after sending her the finished product and understood if she didn’t like it.
‘It’s fine she didn’t like it. It was just my own expression,’ she said.
Rather it was that Team Edwards’ move would’ve stopped her entering the competition, ‘when I tried to put months and months of work into it’ that upset her most.
In her statement, Ms Gaffikin said: ‘The sale of the portrait was questioned, not its entrance into the Archibald.
‘The artist advised she had full legal ownership rights and the painting was sold.’