One of the most exciting events in the Art Gallery of New South Wales calendar is the announcement of the Packing Room Prize winner. The cash prize of $1500 is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize, as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries. The head of the Art Gallery of New South Wales packing room, Steve Peters, with 51% of the vote, gets the final say.
The 2016 winning portrait of renowned chef, restaurateur and MasterChef Australia judge, George Calombaris is by Adelaide-born Melbourne artist, Betina Fauvel-Ogden. It is the first time that Betina, who paints urban landscapes and occasionally portraits, has entered the Archibald Prize.
Last year she set her sights on a portrait of Calombaris, despite at that stage never having met him. Betina said “I was always interested in
George Calombaris as a subject as I felt there was an intensity to his character and after eight months pursuing him, George gave up his valuable time to allow me three sittings. I wanted to paint him in his chef’s white jacket and black apron. In choosing the pose, George felt most comfortable with his hands on his hips. I kept the lighting simple and focused on capturing the determination in his eyes. I had always envisaged a vibrant yellow background for the portrait. When George gave me his cookbook ‘Greek’ with its bold yellow cover, as a gift at the first sitting, that clinched it”.
Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond