“The Archibald-winning artist Fred Cress has made his plans for his funeral. ”I’ve got the grog for the wake,” he says, knowing he has only a few weeks of life left.
The cancer that began seven years ago in his prostate has spread voraciously since autumn. It is now in his spine, his groin, his lungs.
”But the one that will kill me is the liver cancer,” he says. ”That has spread right across here now,” he says, drawing a line across his gut.
The 71-year-old is dealing with imminent death much better than his younger partner of 20 years, Victoria Fernandez – or his two sons, Julian and Kim, by his former wife. ”They’re in denial,” he says. ”I wish they’d get on and organise the funeral.”
After all, lots of people will want to come. When the ABC’s 7.30 Report prematurely broadcast a farewell piece in July (”They jumped the gun,” Cress says), the artist – enjoying his final summer with Victoria in their beloved second home in Burgundy – was inundated with emails from around the world.
He apologises for not replying to them all. But he was feeling remarkably good then, and thought it more important to paint his final canvases while he still had the strength. Ironically, given that Cress does not believe in any kind of after life (and certainly not heaven or hell), ”we might have to borrow a church … because quite a few people will want to speak.”
No time for rage or regret, Sydney Morning Herald.