Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Archibald and More

This year’s Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize winners have been announced.

From the NSW Art Gallery website, under the heading “Where faces get more attention than bikini bodies”:
The Archibald Prize, first awarded in 1921, is Australia’s favourite art award, and one of its most prestigious. Awarded to the best portrait painting, it’s a who’s who of Australian culture – from politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes to artists. 
The Wynne Prize is awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery, or figure sculpture, while the Sulman Prize is given to the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media. 
Each year, the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW judge the Archibald and Wynne, and invite an artist to judge the Sulman. This year’s judge is Lindy Lee.
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The Young Archies award, for budding artists aged 5-18, will be announced on 22 August. The People’s Choice will be announced on 10 September.

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Here are the winners:


“The best portrait, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics, painted by an artist resident in Australia during the twelve months preceding the date fixed by the trustees for sending in the pictures." 

Winner 2015: Nigel Milsom’s portrait of barrister Charles Waterstreet

Milsom robbed a 7-11 in 2012 a few weeks after winning the Sulman Prize. High at the time on heroin and ice, suffering depression and having had a number of friends die, he was suicidal and tried to kill himself with the seat belt in the police transport. Waterstreet, upon whom the ABC TV series rake is based, appeared on his behalf at his sentencing. Waterstreet argued strongly against a custodial sentence but he was given 6.5 years with 2.5 years non-parole. On appeal he was re-sentenced to two years and four months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 341 days. He is on parole until August 25, 2016.

‘I’ve known Charlie indirectly and directly since birth. I was born in Albury around the corner from the Waterstreet Hotel, owned and managed by his parents. On Friday afternoons, my father used to sell them freshly caught Murray cod to earn extra money for materials he needed to complete a boat he was building at home, which later sank to the bottom of the Murray River during its maiden voyage one freezing afternoon. 
‘My relationship with Charlie took on more significance a few years ago when he represented me and in the pursuit of justice stood up to what seemed an unfair, impenetrable brick wall. He put his head on the chopping block and restored my faith in the legal system. 
‘Charlie is a very complex person. He isn’t just a law man. He’s a writer, a social environmentalist and is involved in film, photography and theatre too. Despite personal struggles with his own demons over the years, he has managed to dedicate most of his time to the welfare of others. My portrait is an attempt to depict him as a giant: part-man, part-mythical creature with hands that appear otherworldly, as though the anatomy of his hands has been designed to grasp unnatural disasters, naturally.’
- Nigel Milsom

"The best subject/genre painting and/or murals/mural project executed during the two years preceding the [closing] date”.

Sulman prize winner Jason Phu for: "I Was At Yum Cha When In Rolled The Three Severed Heads of Buddha: Fear, Malice and Death.”
"It's from my perspective as a Chinese-Australian, Buddha heads that I see are usually seen in gardens. My take on Buddhism is something that is very Chinese-Australian and not just peaceful so I decided to represent them as fear, malice and death."  
– Jason Phu

"The best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists completed during the 12 months preceding the [closing] date".

Natasha Bienek for her 9cm x 9cm miniature “Biophilia”.
"My miniature oil painting, Biophilia, is part of a recent series that explores the way humans relate to the natural world. Biophilia literally means ‘love of life’ and references a scientific study that suggests our tendency to affiliate with nature is inherent and integral to our psychological and physical development. The inner-city landscape depicted in my painting illustrates a sense of tranquility that contrasts with its active surroundings. My intention is to draw focus on such diverse pockets of nature, and present the idea that we, as humans, are not above nature but very much a part of it."

The Packing Room Prize: 

This prize has been awarded since 1991, being the election of the best portrait as determined by the staff who receive the portraits and install them in the gallery. Although the prize is said to be awarded by the staff, the gallery's head storeman – as of 2011, Steve Peters – holds 51% of the vote. The Packing Room Prize is awarded annually and the prize is $1,500.

This year’s winner is a portrait of Michael Caton by Bruno Jean Grasswill

The Bald Archy Prize:

The Bald Archy, being a parody of the Archibald, promotes comedy, cartoons and caricatures.

The 2015 Bald Archy has not yet been announced.

The 2014 Bald Archy was by artist Judy Nadin and was entitled Wrecking Balls Ashes to Ashes. It depicted Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson atop a Miley Cyrus-style cricket ball. Johnson had taken 37 wickets in Australia’s 5-0 Ashes win against the Poms.

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