Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

My visit to the Archibald Prize Touring Exhibition, currently on at Victoria’s Art Gallery of Ballarat, raised a number of questions. The most pressing – what constitutes a portrait?

Winner of the 2106 Archibald Prize Louise Herman’s portrait of Barry Humphries.
Winner of the 2106 Archibald Prize Louise Hearman’s portrait of Barry Humphries.

Clearly my thoughts on this topic are very old- fashioned given some of the finalists in this year’s award!   Then comes the question – how do the judges select the finalists and winners from the 830 works entered this year?  And finally I couldn’t help but wonder what some of the former winners of the prize, which dates back to 1921, would think of this year’s entries. But then again the $100,000 prize is renowned for stirring up controversy.

Kirsty Neilson There's no humour in darkness oil and spray paint on canvas 193.5 x 159 cm
Kirsty Neilson portrait of Garry McDonald.

Given my `old fashioned’ thinking there were four works  I couldn’t split –  Louise Hearman’s portrait of Barry Humphries, Betina Fauvel-Ogden’s George Colombaris, Kirsty Neilson’s Garry McDonald and Nick Stathopoulos’ Deng Adut.

Nick Stathopoulos's portrait of Deng Adut.
Nick Stathopoulos’s portrait of  Deng Adut.

There were also quite a few works I really couldn’t decipher such as the self-portraits by Michael McWilliams and Chris Bond.

Chris Bond The Restless Dead (Portrait of the artist) oil on canvas, calico 53 x 44.5 cm
Chris Bond’s The Restless Dead (Portrait of the artist)

The judges, trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW, went with Herman’s work while the Packing Room prize, which is awarded by the Art Gallery of New South Wales staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries, went to Fauvel-Ogden’s portrait.

Michael McWilliams The usurpers (Self-portrait) acrylic on linen 200 x 160 cm
Michael McWilliams’ The usurpers (Self-portrait)

The touring exhibition features 50 of the 51 finalists in this year’s award, which is regarded as Australia’s foremost portraiture prize. It’s awarded to the best painting of a notable Australian and as such it is a who’s who of Australian culture – from politicians to fashion designers, sporting heroes to artists.

It’s the second year the Art Gallery of Ballarat has hosted the touring exhibition and as was the case last year I found the exhibition thought provoking and educational. Accompanying each painting is information about the subject, the artist and the artistic process. The gallery is also hosting numerous events to coincide with the exhibition including artist talks, forum/discussion events, evening concerts and guided tours.

Part of the children's activity area.
Part of the children’s activity area.

As was the case last year the gallery has also designed a program for children. This includes an area where they can create their own portraits.  A number of the exhibits include information aimed at kids while a Children’s Trail brochure includes activities based on seven of the entries.

Catering for the needs of youngsters together with fans of all styles of portrait painting ensures this exhibition offers something for all ages and interests.

Betina Fauvel-Ogden’s portrait of George Colombaris.
Betina Fauvel-Ogden’s portrait of George Colombaris.

The Archibald Prize Touring Exhibition is on at the Art Gallery of Ballarat until 27 November 2016.  Booking in advance is recommended as it is a time-ticket exhibition with entry every 30 minutes up until 4pm. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $13 concession and $7.50 for children 5 to 12. Visit the gallery’s website for tickets and more information on the exhibition.

After Ballarat the exhibition travels around country New South Wales.  The Archibald Touring website has more information.

*Jenny Burns attended the exhibition on Friday October 19 as a guest of the Art Gallery of Ballarat.



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