Every year the Archibald Prize captures the imagination of art lovers around the country, with artists from all walks of life and skill levels sending in their portraits to be judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. It’s art that is accessible, exciting and showcases a broad spectrum of painting talent in Australia. For the 2017 competition, five South Australian’s made it into the top 43 finalists – whittled down from a staggering 822 entries.
Born and bred in rural South Australia, Robert Hannaford is a long-time veteran of the Archibald Prize and one of our most celebrated artists. After three years as a political cartoonist for the Advertiser in the mid 60s, Hannaford has made his living from painting and sculpture. His portrait of business man and current chancellor of the University of Western Australia, Michael Chaney is his 24th Archibald entry that has made it to the final stages. A strong contender, Hannaford has also won the People’s Choice three times. Speaking to the NSW Gallery of the process of painting Chaney, the artist said, “…he is a very charming man. We got to know each other quite well… it was one of the more enjoyable portrait commissions.”
Once again featuring in the Archibald finals alongside her father, Tsering Hannaford is making a name for herself with her delicate, still life paintings. With a drive to “draw attention to the quiet beauty found in everyday life,” Tsering began painting after finishing a Bachelor in Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Art History at the University of Adelaide. Predominantly self-taught, Tsering calls her self-portrait “a demonstration of self-authorship.” Talking to the Gallery of NSW, she added, “The pose of my portrait refers to Mary Magdalene paintings for contrast; here I have represented myself as the subject of my own work, and in this way, I claim the freedom of my own representation.”
An artist from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia’s far North West, Tjungkara Ken is already known around the country for her use of colour and striking works depicting the Seven Sisters story. Speaking to the Gallery of NSW about her work, Ken has said “When the ancestors painted our tjukurpa (dreaming) on the caves and on their bodies, it was a celebration of our culture, a way of identifying people and places, and a way of continuing our stories.” Talking about her striking submission to the Archibald, Ken added, “My painting is a self-portrait through Kungkarangkalpa tjukurpa, the Seven Sisters dreaming – a self-portrait of my country. For Anangu, they are one and the same.” Ken has been painting for over 20 years – with her work acquired by major institutions and private collections across Australia and around the world.
A Western Arrernte man from Ntaria and now living in Indulkana, Vincent Namatjira is the great-grandson of legendary artist Albert Namatjira – the first Aboriginal person to feature in an Archibald winning portrait. Initially creating dot paintings under the tutelage of his wife Natasha, Namatjira started painting portraits of world leaders and celebrities (or in his words people “who are famous for making decisions that impact us”) in 2013. Speaking to the Gallery of NSW about his self-portrait, the artist stated, “Painting is about fighting really; it’s a battle you have every day with the canvas and the paints. You never stop learning, and you always have to be working and thinking as you paint. This painting shows how I feel at the end of the week when I’ve battled hard, and am now ready to spend time with my family.”
Born in Adelaide in 1966, Dee Smart made her mark on Australian culture through her turn as Lucinda Croft on popular soap Home and Away in the early 90s. After a number of television guest spots, plays and films, Dee made the transition to painter while at home with her new-born daughter 15 years ago – bolstered by night life drawing classes. Dee chose colourful character and creator of knitwear label Purl Harbour, John Macarthur as her subject – as she was taken by his humour and humble disposition. Playfully dubbed the ‘mayor of Bondi’, Macarthur’s world is depicted as a kaleidoscope of colours by Smart – in stark contrast to his monotone skin. This is Smart’s first Archibald entry.
The Trustees vote on the winner of the prize on the morning of this Friday July 28 – and will make their announcement soon after.
The Archibald Prize exhibition opens on Saturday 29 July, and is on view until 22 October.
The exhibition will then tour in NSW and Victorian regional cities.
Geelong Gallery 28 October 2017 – 10 December 2017
Murray Art Museum Albury 15 December 2017 – 28 January 2018
Grafton Regional Gallery 2 February 2018 – 18 March 2018
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre 24 March 2018- 6 May 2018
Newcastle Art Gallery 11 May 2018 – 24 June 2018
Gouburn Regional Art Gallery 30 June 2018 – 18 August 2018
Glasshouse Port Macquarie 25 August – 7 October 2018
You can view all 43 of the final portraits online at www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au
Which is your favourite Archibald finalist? Let us know in the comments, below.