The announcement of the winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes is one of the most exciting and eagerly awaited events in the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ calendar.
This year’s exhibition features 51 portraits of fascinating Australian personalities from George Calombaris, Toni Zeltzer, Linda Jackson, Garry McDonald, Peter Weiss AO and Wendy Whiteley plus 34 works for the Wynne Prize and 25 works for the Sulman Prize.
Each year, the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW judge the Archibald & Wynne, but invite an artist to judge the Sulman.
Women artists have taken all three awards this year, with Melbourne artist Louise Hearman winning the 2016 Archibald Prize for ‘Barry’, her portrait of iconic Australian Barry Humphries. The Ken Family Collaborative (Tjungkara Ken, Yaritji Young, Maringka Tunkin, Freda Brady and Sandra Ken) won the Wynne Prize for ‘Seven Sisters’ and Esther Stewart the Sulman Prize for ‘Flatland Dreaming’.
Michael Brand, Art Gallery of New South Wales Director, said this is the first time that all three prizes have been won by women artists only. Of the 51 finalists in this year’s Archibald Prize, 25 were women artists. Lucy Culliton actually had works in each of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.
First awarded in 1921, the Archibald Prize for the best portrait painting, is perhaps Australia’s best known and most prestigious art award. From politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes to artists and anyone else in between, the portrait subjects are a who’s who of Australian culture.
The Wynne Prize is awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery or figure sculpture while the Sulman Prize is awarded to the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media.
A week prior to these announcements, Melbourne artist Betina Fauvel-Ogden, with her portrait of renowned chef, restaurateur and MasterChef Australia judge George Calombaris, won the Packing Room Prize. This prize 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.
On display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 9 Oct 2016.
Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond