We congratulate West Australian Sydney-based Wongutha-Yamatji artist, writer and actor Meyne Wyatt, on winning the 2020 Archibald ‘Packing Room Prize’ for his self-portrait titled Meyne. Wyatt is the first Indigenous artist to win any of the prizes on offer in the Archibald prize in its 99-year history – and he is a first-time entrant.
The announcement was broadcast on Thursday 17 September by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, along with the naming of the finalists for the annual Archibald, Wynne, Sulman and Young Archie Prizes
Sharing his delight Wyatt said, “Being a finalist for the Archibald Prize was a pipe dream, let alone being awarded the Packing Room Prize. I am absolutely ecstatic and truly humbled by this wonderful honour.”
“My self-portrait is the first painting I’ve done in over ten years and I decided to enter it at the behest of my artist mother, Sue Wyatt, an Archibald Prize finalist in 2003 for her portrait of writer Doris Pilkington.
“I want to thank the Art Gallery of New South Wales, their staff, Brett Cuthbertson and the Packing Room team. Most of all I want to thank my Mum, who encouraged me to enter the Archibald Prize in the first place and gave me the courage to be so bold. In a way, that is the essence of the painting and what it reflects – to be bold.”
A phenomenal number of entries totalling 2,565 were received across the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes this year. Wyatt’s painting is one of only 55 finalists selected for the Archibald prize and exhibition. Each year the ‘Packing Room Prize’ is awarded to the best work as nominated by head packer Brett Cuthbertson in collaboration with the Gallery staff who work behind the scenes receiving, unpacking and hanging the entries.
Wyatt’s win also celebrates his entry as the second only self-portrait to win the ‘Packing Room Prize’ in its 29-year history, which was won for the first time in 1998 by artist Kerrie Lester with a depiction of herself as a bridesmaid.
Cuthbertson who has been working at AGNSW for the last 39 years holds 52% of the vote for the Packing Room Prize. He said, “When Meyne came into the Gallery to deliver his entry he said he hadn’t painted in some time and the work was just a COVID project. I loved the story and was really impressed with the result.”
Wyatt is widely recognised on Australian theatre stages and screens. He made headlines in June this year with a powerful four-minute-speech from his play City Of Gold on ABC’s Q&A. His film credits include The Sapphires (2012), The Turning (2013), and Strangerland (2015) and television credits include Mystery Road (SBS, 2018), Neighbours (Network 10, 2014-16), Redfern Now (ABC, 2013), Black Comedy (ABC, 2016), and The Leftovers (HBO, 2017).
You can explore all of the finalist works selected for the Archibald Prize 2020 finalists, Wynne Prize 2020 finalists, Sulman Prize 2020 finalists and the Young Archie 2020 finalists and honourable mentions via these links.
Finalists across all prizes will be exhibited at AGNSW, Sydney from 26 September 2020 to 10 January 2021. The finalists works in the ‘Archibald Prize’ 2020 exhibition will be touring to regional Queensland and New South Wales from 22 January 2021.
Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre 22 January to 7 March 2021
Cairns Art Gallery 19 March to 2 May 2021
Griffith Regional Art Gallery 14 May to 27 June 2021
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery 9 July – 22 August 2021
Shoalhaven Regional Gallery 3 September – 17 October 2021
Penrith Regional Gallery 29 October – 5 December 2021
To keep up to date with the 2020 Archibald announcements please visit AGNSW’s Archibald Prize page.