This morning the finalists for the 2017 Archibald Prize, Australasia’s iconic portraiture painting award, were announced.
Among the diverse 43 finalists honoured are celebrity polymath Anh Do, recent-headline-making artist Jon Campbell, former actor Dee Smart, The Boys of Sydney Grammar Edgecliff Preparatory School, and one artist simply going by the pseudonym ‘what’.
The winner of the $100,000 prize is to be announced on July 28th, the day before the exhibition featuring all finalists opens at the Art Gallery of NSW. ‘It is a uniquely popular art exhibition that has managed to capture the imagination of the public in a way unlike any other exhibition in the country,’ tells Anne Ryan, curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW. ‘It is art painted by Australians, about Australians. There’s nothing else quite like it.’
Since 1921, the Archibald Prize, has been awarded annually to the best portrait, ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’, as judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. It was first established by journalist and trustee JF Archibald in the hope that it would foster portraiture as well as support artists and perpetuate the memory of great Aussies, with many prominent artists participating and highly successful subjects gracing their canvases. Past winners include John Olsen for ‘Self portrait Janus Faced’, Guy Maestri for ‘Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’, and last year, Louise Hearman for ‘Barry’, her portrait of comedian Barry Humphries.
Just a couple of hours ago, artist Peter Smeeth’s 34th Archibald entry into the competition: an oil-on-linen portrait of broadcaster ‘Lisa Wilkinson AM’, was awarded the popular Packing Room Prize. This special honour is chosen by the Gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries, with 51 per cent of the vote going to the Gallery’s storeman, Steve Peters – after 26 Packing Room Prizes and 35 Archibald Prizes, this year marks the veteran employee’s final adjudication!
‘I looked at the painting and thought, that’s a great likeness. It’s how Lisa looks every morning on the telly. She looks like she’s laughing at something Karl said!’ Steve told the Art Gallery of NSW. ‘Mind you, Lisa’s been in the wars recently, so I reckon the safest place for her to stay for a while is right on that couch – just like me in my comfy chair in my portrait by Lucy Culliton (pictured above right). That’s where I intend to spend lots of time too in the coming weeks,’ he added.
Finalists of the Wynne Prize (landscape paintings of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or figure sculpture), and the Sulman Prize, (subject paintings, genre paintings or mural projects in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media), as well as the Young Archie, showcasing the creativity of budding artists between the ages of five and 18, were also revealed. ‘They are looking at the key subjects that have been the bedrock of art for hundreds of years – landscape, sculpture, and genre/subject painting,’ says curator Anne Ryan. ‘Together with the Young Archie and Packing Room Prize, they embrace our youngest artists and popular taste as well as the latest ideas of contemporary painters and sculptors in this country.’
For more information visit the Art Gallery of NSW website, here.