Sir Elton John yesterday purchased three works from gay Melbourne artist Ross Watson’s current series.

One of the works was a portrait of UK soldier Lance Corporal James Wharton, who is gay and married to his male partner.

To celebrate World AIDS Day, John – who’s currently touring Australia – also received a gift set of Watson’s editions for the Elton John AIDS Foundation which continues to raise millions of dollars each year.

John will tonight appear at a reception for World AIDS Day 2011, during which the sails of the Sydney Opera House will be lit up by the star with federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

Watson’s current exhibition, titled Cycles&Sequences, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his artistic career, and opens December 6 at Depot Gallery in Dank St, Waterloo.

Celebrating positive gay role models continues to be important for Watson, who has formally painted Matthew Mitcham and Ian Roberts – both portraits now hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Lance Corporal James Wharton appeared on the front cover of the UK’s Armed Forces magazine in 2009, as a soldier who is openly gay.

Watson has painted Wharton alongside two Australian ‘digger’ soldiers who look out to sea.

As the subject of equal marriage continues to be discussed and debated in Australia, the painting refers to Wharton’s much publicised civil partnership with his partner, Thom McCaffrey.

Significantly, permission was given to host their wedding reception at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment’s Knightsbridge barracks in London.

A number of Watson’s limited edition works have been donated to Stonewall UK for fundraising in 2012.

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