Archibald Prize ’16

It is that time of year when the Art Gallery of NSW is bursting with art-lovers, school groups and all kinds of tourists.

And every year my parents and I join the crowds to see the finalists. Without a doubt each year is packed, shoulder to shoulder, no matter the day. As for me I enjoy watching the crowd as they move in and around each other.

3 people

ws room

This year was no different. Beautiful portraits, large and small, hung on white walls surrounded by groups of onlookers. I had stepped into a maze and no doubt I lost my parents within the first five seconds. I was lost in a world of creativity and wonder.


Lost in deed. I was overcome by my surroundings. I often found myself standing some feet back from an artwork dazed and transfixed as I looked through my camera lens trying to capture the work at the right angle. The creativity in the room was electrifying and with that each and every single person had an opinion.

While each piece was beautifully crafted the winning pieces for me were:

me and dad 2.0
Danelle Bergstrom’s 
‘Guy Warren’ My favourite piece of the exhibition. The colour, texture and use of brush strokes makes this work so beautifully breathtaking. The lines on the subjects face resinate experiences had and years gone by yet the pink tones symbolise some remaining youth. The imperfections of this piece create such an allure to the audience. The background while seemingly unfinished adds depth and texture but yet does not detract from the subject. The whole work compliments itself. Ultimately, it is the subjects fragile, delicate and worn eyes that capture your attention. I believe my attraction to this piece was the subject’s resemblance to my own father. The love and life lived in those eyes were perfectly captured by the artist.

Kirsty Neilson’s ‘
There’s no humor in darkness’ – I was emotionally drawn to this piece based on the texture. I have never wanted to hug a painting more than this one. It just looked so soft it was hard to refrain myself from pushing through the crowd to touch it. The subject ‘Garry McDonald’ sits centred and weary with his head resting in his hand. The detail and scale of the work was truly captivating. Some critics may comment that there is a no emotional connection with the subject purely because his eyes are hidden. However, I believe that makes the work stand out from those hanging beside it.

parson x 2
Monica Rohan’s 
‘Easton Pearson’ I was taken by this work because of the layers of texture and colour shown across the canvas. Despite the overwhelming feeling that the subjects ‘Pamela Easton’ and ‘Lydia Pearson’ were drowning in fabric they looked very comfortable in their surroundings.

wall of women
The first wall as I entered I labelled ‘The Wall of Women’. It is quite obvious as you walk through the exhibition that men are the more favoured subject. So it was a nice change to see these three portraits depicting strong women hung side by side each other.

2016 Archibald Prize Winner:
The winning entry for the 2016 Archibald was Louise Hearman’s  portrait of Barry Humphries entitled ‘Barry’. Hearman had previously said she found the subject hard to capture noting the entertainer had ‘a truly fugitive face’. The oil on Masonite portrait was a true likeness to the iconic Australian personality and had bystanders transfixed. Her depiction of Barry’s face was captivating. You cannot help but smile at his cheeky grin hidden behind those eyes.

However, his face is lost in comparison to the sight of black. The solid black background ultimately distracts the audience away from the calm and cheeky nature of the subjects face. I do not believe I have ever disliked black more than in this painting. It has no depth, no story and no texture to it. I find it overwhelming and out of character. Furthermore, can someone please explain why Barry is wearing a chief’s outfit? He looks like he has just finished a shift in the kitchen.

2016 Wynne Prize Winner:
Seven Sisters
The Ken Family’s ‘Seven Sisters’, was the winning entry for the 2016 Wynne prize and rightfully so. It is breathtaking in scale, colour and technique. This Ingenious piece uses the Aboriginal style of storytelling with symbols, colour and line. It had audiences in owe as they stood motionless trying to make sense and meaning of the work.

2 x chiefs

I left inspired and found myself spending up big at the nearest art supply shop. Until next year…

The Archibald Prize 2016 is at The Art Gallery of NSW until 9th October I recommend buying your tickets online at:



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