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Archibald Prize 2014 Tour

Home > Melbourne > Art | Escape the City | Exhibitions | Public Lectures
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
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Celebrity heads on show
Image Source: Visit Victoria


The Archibald Prize is well known. It is where $75 000 dollars is awarded for the best portrait 'preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any resident in Australasia'.

The requirements once made this a bit of a stuffy exhibition full of politicians, businessmen and other stuffed suits.

But this has changed dramatically in recent years with more recognisable commoners making it into the mix so that perhaps the definition of what makes "a great Australian" is rapidly changing.

Source: Art Gallery of NSW


This year for example there is a really interesting painting of Nick Cave by James Powditch that makes him appear like a modern day Orson Welles. " I see Cave and Welles as similar, extraordinary talents, across multiple disciplines." Powditch said.

While in another painting artist Sophia Sophia Hewson showed herself kissing Missy Higgins. "…she was willing to work with me outside the traditional portrait structure" she said in an interview.

It is possibly the best known art exhibition in Australia mainly because it deals with so many celebrities who are in the limelight.

The origin of the competition seems to have got lost with time. JF Archibald (1856-1919) was a journalist and founder of the Bulletin magazine which in its heyday was quite a radical magazine.

And Archibald himself started as a bit of a bohemian with his interest in literature in art.

He was also a trustee for the Art Gallery of NSW, and keen to promote the work of young artists and writers. He employed many of Australia's leading young artists as illustrators for The Bulletin including George Lambert and Norman Lindsay.

In 1900, Archibald commissioned artist John Longstaff to paint a portrait of the poet Henry Lawson. He was so delighted with the portrait that he left money in his will for an annual portrait prize, which was first awarded in 1921.

He wanted a tangible reminder of great Australians.

Ironically during his life Archibald shunned the limelight. So it was only after his death that the Art Gallery of NSW trustees had his portrait painted.

Ironic because in life Archibald assiduously avoided even having his photograph taken.

In Victoria the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is the only venue that will be showing the 2014 finalists. The exhibition then moves onto various NSW galleries. Please see the list below.

4 October 2014 – 16 November 2014 Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery
21 November 2014 – 4 January 2015 Gosford Regional Gallery
16 January 2015 – 22 February 2015 Maitland Regional Art Gallery
28 February 2015 – 12 April 2015 Lismore Regional Gallery
18 April 2015 – 31 May 2015 Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery
5 June 2015 – 19 July 2015 Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery
24 July 2015 – 6 September 2015 Griffith Regional Art Gallery

Another interesting art exhibition held each year is the The Bald Archy Prize which is a send up of the seriousness of the Archibald Prize. Although these days the Archibald Prize seems to have no problem with sending the famous prize up from within.

2014 Archibald Finalist Tim Storrier 'The Member', Dr Sir Leslie Colin Patterson. The Archibald Prize is no longer about stuffed suits
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Why? Because we love celebrities and art isn't bad either
When: 4th of October 2014 until the 6 Sept 2015
Where: 4 October 2014 – 16 November 2014 Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 21 November 2014 – 4 January 2015 Gosford Regional Gallery 16 January 2015 – 22 February 2015 Maitland Regional Art Gallery 28 February 2015 – 12 April 2015 Lismore Regional Gall
Cost: Various depending on gallery
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