We spoke to Brett Lethbridge, Owner of Lethbridge Gallery, about how the Lethbridge 10,000 began.

Favourite international holiday destination, and why? 

When we go to Germany to visit my wife Olivia’s family, we meet in a new place in Europe for a few days before joining the clan. It’s never the same place twice. We have met in Vienna, Hamburg, Prague, Santorini, Paris and a few other places.

Ultimate Australian escape, and why? 

A simple houseboat on the Noosa River and a powered catamaran around the Whitsundays are two favourites. I love the isolation and self containment you have on a boat.

Which do you prefer – country or city living, and why? 

City – I like the buzz of people going about their business. I live behind the gallery in the inner city, so I’m surrounded by the buzz of people going about their business every day, and I never get sick of it.

Favourite room in your home, and why? 

We have a room in the house that has a day bed and a television in it. It’s a small cosy room and I spend most of my time in it.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be, and what would you serve? 

Nelson Mandela and Lee Kuan Yew — both changed the worlds they were born into, in languages not their own, through the power of their sense of mission, morality and duty. I would serve a degustation, and since this is fantasy, I’d like it if they changed ages after each course.

A weekend in spring is best spent … 

In a hammock on the back deck of the house, looking over Paddington.

How did the Lethbridge 10,000 start? 

The 10,000, which is now in its 10th year, has a tradition where I tell its story before announcing the winner. It started when I was living in Siena Italy in 2001 and I had completely run out of money. By chance, a restaurateur I had met wanted a painting, and we agreed on 10,000 as the payment. The day I started the commission was September 11 and I watched the planes fly into the towers. It put me in an emotional state, which certainly showed, in a good way, in the final piece. I finished, he was very happy, and he paid me 10,000 in cash. I flew back to my apartment in Italy and paid the rent for the next three months. It was the next week that I met the woman who would later be my wife, and the mother to our three kids, in the streets of that lovely town. My wish for the winner of the award, which is also paid in cash, is that the prize will make the same difference to their lives as it did to mine.