Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes on view in Sydney                  

The Archibald, Australia’s popular portrait prize, is on show from 8 June to 8 September 2024 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. It is part of a trio of exhibitions which includes the Wynne (for Australian landscape) and Sulman (subject painting, genre painting or a mural project.)

You can view all the finalist work here for ‘the Archie’, who do you think will win the top nod? As ever there is a variety of aesthetic, approach and subject on display. Mia Boe’s work ‘Toe Knee Arm Strong’ sets Tony Armstrong, a former Australian Rules footballer of Barrabinya descent in surreal landscape and Laura Jones cleverly presents Tim Winton in a way which brings printmaking to mind, a medium connected to political activism. Jones said ‘‘When I flew to Perth for a sitting, the Great Barrier Reef was suffering its fifth mass bleaching event in eight years. Tim was warm and witty. We spoke about the historical relationship between printmaking and political activism. I approached his portrait as if it was a monotype, using thin brushstrokes and letting the paint bleed across the canvas like ink into paper. Dreamy yet direct.’ Thom Roberts shares a portrait of Ken Done titled ‘Big Bamm-Bamm’ with cats ears and additional eyes, as the artist said ‘Because I do it Thom’s way.’

Mia Boe
Laura Jones
Thom Roberts

The Packing Room Prize has been awarded to Matt Adnate for his portrait of Baker Boy (aka Danzal Baker), the work itself is titled ‘Rhythms of Heritage’ and the artist has used a combination of spray paint and synthetic polymer paint on linen. Baker Boy is the first musician to achieve mainstream success rapping in Yolŋu Matha language, the gallery notes.

Matt Adnate

Adnate and Baker Boy have been collaborating creatively for years and as such this portrait was thoughtfully composed, the artist says ‘In this portrayal, the vibrant blue and orange background echoes the fusion of tradition and innovation that defines his sound,’ says Adnate. ‘I have also included a reflection of the Arnhem Land landscape in his eyes to symbolise the profound connection between his cultural heritage and his artistic narrative.’

Megan Hales

The Sulman prize is diverse but with some commonalities such as a consideration of liminal spaces, with artists like Megan Hales painting the classic Telstra phone booth in her work ‘Long Night’ that muses on the want and wait ‘for contact with a place, people or thing, and encountering a slow burn – a buffering – en route to it’ to Kenny Pittock’s larger than life post-it note, titled ‘The little things are the big things (discarded shopping list)’ which acts as a portrait of an unknown person, and captures a fleeting moment, and Nadia Hernández’s work which depicts a dog or spirits who guide souls from this world into the next in ‘Nevado en el afterlife’.

Kenny Pittock
Nadia Hernández

The Wynne platforms the artists considering landscape and there are many exquisite works to enjoy. The gallery happily shared that for the first time, there are more works by Aboriginal artists than non-Aboriginal artists in the Wynne, with 21 works by Aboriginal artists among the finalists.

Vincent Namatjira (who won the Archibald in 2020 for his portrait of Adam Goodes, the first Indigenous artist to win) is now a first time finalist in the Wynne with his painting ‘Kunmanara (Jimmy) Pompey on Country’ of his Father in law. The artist said, ‘He was an important influence and role model to me when I was starting out as an artist. As well as being a stockman, my father-in-law was a wonderful musician, and a great artist who painted his memories. I’ve painted him on Country, with his guitar and a wild horse running free.’

Vincent Namatjira

Thea Anamara Perkins’ work ‘Atherreyurre’ is evocative. She draws our attention to inaction on climate change. ‘Beauty can be a vehicle to convey hard truths,’ she says. ‘I chose to paint last light as time is running out. I’m communicating the essence of a place that I hold dear to prompt others to think of what we value.’

Thea Anamara Perkins

We hope you enjoy all the wonderful works on show in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.