. . . I came up with the Archibald Prize. This is stream of consciousness rubbish after all. Every year, there is an Australian prize for portraiture. This is a wonderful thing - seriously! Well worth the browse at the NSW Art Gallery and yes, I'll pay my 'whatever dollars' to marvel at the skill of fine portrait artists.. (Ooh distracted momentarily by the pong of orange jasmine wafting through the lounge) The winner has not yet been voted upon but they have the 'Packer's Prize' this is a small cash prize and the judges? Those who unpack these amazing portraits, the lackeys, the roadies, the unravellers and unwrappers. This year they have voted for Neil Finn, composer, artist, singer/songwriter and founder of Crowded House, possibly one of the best things to come out of New Zealand. Painted by a NZ artist who is the first to take advantage of the fact that it's an "Australasian" competition and good on him!
The winning entry is judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and is held at the Art Gallery of NSW every year. For a mere $35,000 grant, portrait painters in Australasia (which includes NZ but no-one until now has dared to enter) is awarded. One of it's great controversies was the award to William Dobelll which was considered a 'caricature' and led to a famous court case in the 40's.
In 1943, Dobell won the prize with a painting of fellow artist Joshua Smith and the case was taken to court because the prize judges felt it was a caricature not a portrait. He won the case but his confidence was destroyed.
First awarded in 1921, the Archibald Prize quickly became a prize eagerly sought by artists, not only because of the money it offered and the publicity and public exposure it generated, but because it also gave portrait artists an opportunity to have their work shown in a major gallery. Previously, portraitists had been largely restricted to public or private commissions and these exhibitions allowed their artwork to be viewed as a serious art form.
For me, the winner is academic and they have been contentious and wonderful but the Packers Prize is the one that hits home. Here are a few recent winners of the 'real' a Archy. . . .I wish I could paint like this. Um .. I wish I could paint more than a bathroom actually!
Lovely aren't they? Poor William, he really had a hard time of it.
So, in deference to my northern friends here's a little Crowded House, which sort of describes our weather patterns at the moment: