Archibald Prize 2021 LIVE updates: our picks to win on the 100th anniversary

Key posts

  • Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame lead women sitters in 2021
  • Archibald Prize: Sydney’s answer to the Melbourne Cup turns 100
  • Welcome to our Archibald 2021 live blog
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Welcome to our Archibald 2021 live blog

Good morning and welcome to our Archibald Prize 2021 live blog. My name is Helen Pitt, I’m the deputy editor of Spectrum and former writer for The Bulletin magazine, which was founded by J.F. Archibald for whom this prize is named. It’s the centenary celebrations for this art prize that stops the nation in the way the Melbourne Cup does – so naturally we’ve done a team sweep to pick this year’s winner.

Both our art critic John McDonald and arts editor Nick Galvin have their money on Peter Wegner’s portrait of Archie 100 pin-up boy Guy Warren. The 1985 Archibald prize winner, who turned 100 in April this year, is a sentimental favourite.

Melanie Kembrey, our deputy culture editor, likes Oliver Watts’ portrait of Eryn Jean Norvill as Dorian Gray. He’s painted her about 20 times already over the past 10 years. This was painted in the character of her critically acclaimed role in the Sydney Theatre Company production The Picture of Dorian Gray. Our digital culture editor Genevieve Rota loves hyperrealistic works and picks Hong Fu’s portrait of professor Mabel Lee as her favourite, alongside Eunice Djerrkngu Yunupingu’s Me and my sisters.

The winner will be announced just after 12pm, keep your eyes peeled!

Oliver Watts’ portrait of Eryn Jean Norvill as Dorian Gray. Acrylic on canvas, 213.5 x 137.5 cm. © the artist. Credit:Jenni Carter

Fun facts: what you didn’t know about the Archibald Prize

Winning women
Only 10 women have won the Archibald prize in its 100-year history.

In 100 years the prize has been awarded only 17 times to works featuring female sitters.

Winner of the 2014 Archibald Prize, Fiona Lowry with her subject, Penelope Seidler, at the NSW Art Gallery in Sydney.Credit:Janie Barrett

Eager entrants
More than 32,000 entries have been received from Australia and New Zealand since the prize began in 1921. The record number of entries goes to artist Joseph Wolinski (1872-1955) with 107, none of them winners.

More than 6000 works by 1500 artists have been exhibited – one-third of those painters have been women. A record 1068 entries were received in 2020.

Portraits of the artists
Oldest winner: John Olsen, 77, in 2005
Youngest winner: Nora Heysen, 28, in 1938

Only one Indigenous painter, Vincent Namatjira, has won, in 2020. Only four times have subjects been Indigenous men.

Brett Whiteley remains the only artist to have won the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes in one year, 1978. Only two others, William Dobell (1948) and Sam Leach (2010), have come close to his record, winning both the Archibald and the Wynne prizes.

Read more here.

Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame lead women sitters in 2021

In a year when women’s marches blocked city streets, and allegations of rape and impropriety shook Australian politics to the core, the standard-bearers for reform have been immortalised for this year’s Archibald Prize.

Portraits of the Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, and the former Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, were entered in the prize’s 100th anniversary year.

Coffs Harbour-based artist Darren Pryce painted an intimate cameo-style portrait of Higgins, over the shoulder of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Kirsty Neilson, a 2016 finalist with a pensive portrait of actor Garry McDonald, painted Tame and is among the finalists.

Artist Darren Pryce with his portrait of Brittany Higgins.Credit:Simon Cardwell

Another female pioneer, Indigenous director, producer and screenwriter Rachel Perkins, has been painted by her artist niece Thea Perkins, herself a finalist last year for her portrait of her grandfather Gadigal/Redfern elder Charles Madden.

Pryce approached Higgins through her partner, meeting her in Brisbane in March, around the time the ABC’s Four Corners program examined the culture of Canberra’s Parliament House.

Read more here.

Archibald Prize: Sydney’s answer to the Melbourne Cup turns 100

Actor David Gulpilil is leaning by Liberal politician Trent Zimmerman when suddenly OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn appears with artist Wendy Sharpe following. Not the people, but their portraits, which are being delivered in the final hours before the 2021 Archibald Prize deadline.

Some artists, such as Craig Ruddy, who has painted Gulpilil twice before for the Archibalds – winning controversially in 2004 with his charcoal drawing two worlds – have driven across the state, as he has from Byron Bay. Others have simply crossed the city, like 14-time finalist Paul Newton, who’s dashed from Dural, “getting every red light on the way”, with his self-portrait. “I’m a regular 11th hour deliverer,” confesses the two-time winner of the $1500 packing room prize; once with a portrait of radio host John Laws (1996), and again in 2001 with characters Roy Slaven and HG Nelson.

Paul Newton’s 2001 packing room prize-winning portrait of Roy and HG.Credit:Robert Pearce

This century-old spectacle at the Art Gallery of NSW is one that head packer Brett Cuthbertson has witnessed for 40 years. His packing room team know his golden rule: “no wet paint”. Most entrants ignore it, he says. His favourite moment occurred in the early 1990s when dominatrix Madame Lash – Gretel Pinniger – arrived two hours past deadline.

Read more here.

Welcome to our Archibald 2021 live blog

Good morning and welcome to our Archibald Prize 2021 live blog. My name is Helen Pitt, I’m the deputy editor of Spectrum and former writer for The Bulletin magazine, which was founded by J.F. Archibald for whom this prize is named. It’s the centenary celebrations for this art prize that stops the nation in the way the Melbourne Cup does – so naturally we’ve done a team sweep to pick this year’s winner.

Both our art critic John McDonald and arts editor Nick Galvin have their money on Peter Wegner’s portrait of Archie 100 pin-up boy Guy Warren. The 1985 Archibald prize winner, who turned 100 in April this year, is a sentimental favourite.

Melanie Kembrey, our deputy culture editor, likes Oliver Watts’ portrait of Eryn Jean Norvill as Dorian Gray. He’s painted her about 20 times already over the past 10 years. This was painted in the character of her critically acclaimed role in the Sydney Theatre Company production The Picture of Dorian Gray. Our digital culture editor Genevieve Rota loves hyperrealistic works and picks Hong Fu’s portrait of professor Mabel Lee as her favourite, alongside Eunice Djerrkngu Yunupingu’s Me and my sisters.

The winner will be announced just after 12pm, keep your eyes peeled!

Oliver Watts’ portrait of Eryn Jean Norvill as Dorian Gray. Acrylic on canvas, 213.5 x 137.5 cm. © the artist. Credit:Jenni Carter

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