The Archibald Prize

Archibald Prize,Archibald_winner_2017,Mitch Cairns,Agatha Gothe-Snape

Winner Archibald Prize 2017 – Artist: Mitch Cairns, Subject: Agatha Gothe-Snape

Have you been to see the Archibald Prize yet at the NSW art gallery? A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the Salon des Refuses. Today let’s take a look at some of the works on offer at the Archibald, Wynne and Sir John Sulman prizes.

Do you know what the different prize categories are? The Archibald Prize is awarded for the best portrait painting and the Sir John Sulman Prize is awarded in one of the following categories: the best subject painting, genre painting or wall mural project by an Australian artist.

A genre painting is normally a composition representing some aspect or aspects of everyday life and may feature figurative, still-life, interior or figure-in-landscape themes. A subject painting, in contrast, is idealised or dramatised. Typically, a subject painting takes its theme from history, poetry, mythology or religion. In both cases, however, the style may be figurative, representative, abstract or semi-abstract.

A mural is a picture fixed directly to a wall or ceiling as part of an architectural and/or decorative scheme.

Established within the terms of Sir John Sulman’s bequest, the prize was first awarded in 1936. Each year the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW invite a guest artist to judge this open competition. Finalists are displayed in an exhibition at the Gallery (although in the early years all entrants were hung).


One of the most eagerly awaited awards is the Packing Room Prize.  This year it was won by Peter Smeeth with his portrait – Lisa Wilkinson AM.

Archibald Prize


The winner of the Wynne prize for 2017 was Betty Kuntiwa Pumani with the painting Antara, pictured below.

“Antara in South Australia is an extremely important site for Betty Kuntiwa Pumani and her family. Antara is her mother’s country. This place and its significant maku (witchetty grub) tjukurpa were a constant in the paintings of her mother, the late Kunmanara (Milatjari) Pumani. Today, Betty and her older sister Ngupulya Pumani are proud custodians of this country; they map its significance and hold its stories strong in their paintings.”  Quote from NSW Art Gallery.

archibald prize


The Sulman prize was awarded this year to Joan Ross, with her work ‘Oh history, you lied to me.’ This is what Joan Ross has to say about her work.

“This work continues my interrogation of colonial collecting and of Australian colonisation. I imagine history is an unfaithful lover, in his own bubble with his lies, seduction and manipulation, only seeing from his position. Recreating the Leverian Museum, a catacomb of curiosities including those from Captain Cook’s voyages, and using my signature hi-vis as a metaphor for colonisation, I am critical of the collecting mentality as an ongoing disease fuelled by superiority and greed.” 

Archibald prize

As always the Archibald is always worth a look. 

In last weeks post I spoke a little about The Archibald Prize. Today I would like to review some of the paintings in this a little further. As I said last week the winning painting by Tim Storrier  was an interesting look at the whole concept of what a portrait is. This painting encompasses the idea of how there are many different facets to a persons personality.  In this case it includes many of the tools of the artist’s trade and a whimsical reference to his faithful companion his dog. The over all feeling of the painting is one of joyous exploration and it has a great “joie de vivre”.  I include it here again now in case you missed the previous post.

The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch)

The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch)


Interestingly the gallery has hung a painting next to it which explores a similar theme of life’s journey. However one would be hard pushed to find two more dissimilar paintings on the same subject anywhere.

The other painting Ultrapilgrim by Juan Ford,  depicts someone who seems to be weighed down by life’s burdens.  The figure is cloaked and appears to hold a mendicant’s staff. He has no companion and struggles along isolated from the world with his burdens on his back. There is no sense of joyous adventure in this work, only toil and struggle!


Ultrapilgrim -Juan Ford

One of the other works which was extraordinary was Mangrove Tree by Joshua Yeldham. Created on board, plywood I believe,  he carves and adds cane pieces to th work to stunning effect. He has developed a very original style, well worth checking out. Here’s what he has to say about his painting.

“My children have found pirate treasure beneath this old mangrove tree. We climb its twisted limbs to avoid her sharp roots below. This golden tree, the stingrays, fishing lines, the tinny full of rain and the Hawkesbury River have deeply touched us. We ride the wild sea and I dance with my paintbrush for another day in this timeless land.”

Mangrove tree – Hawkesbury River Joshua Yeldham

Mangrove tree – Hawkesbury River Joshua Yeldham

This weeks question: What has deeply touched you in your life, that you might care to share with the rest of the world?

It seems that many apologies are being called for lately. I am struggling to keep
up with my weekly posts so am late for the second time in recent weeks. Last
weekend I was away in Sydney celebrating my 60th birthday.

Part of my celebrations involved very creative things to do with food, which I
captured to share with you. These included gorgeous desserts…..

Birthday Dessert
Birthday Dessert


And then there was …….

Quince dessert
Quince dessert …… yum !!


And yet there was more……. To die for desserts at Aqua dining Sydney

Lunch dessert

And then there was dessert that night at the Lindt store at darling Harbour, as we watched a magnificent fireworks display……


Waffles, Ice cream and Chocolate


And the next morning ……breakfast at Bills – with hot cakes extrordinaire!


Hot Cakes At Bill's


After breakfast we went to see the Archibald prize exhibition currently showing in Sydney

at the NSW art gallery.  If you live in Sydney, try and get along to see this exhibition. The are some really great paintings, worth taking a look at as well as the usual controversial things that look like the cat threw up on the canvas!!!

The winner by  Tim Storrier I didn’t like much when I saw it in the local newspaper, however when seen in the flesh so to speak – it was stunning.

The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch)
The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch)


This Weeks Question: What special thing will you do for your Inner Creative – this week?

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