The Archibald Prize is one of Australia’s most prestigious art prizes; an annual portraiture competition which invites Australasian artists to submit a portrait of a person distinguished in the fields of art, science, letters or politics. It’s basically a who’s who of that year.
Notable subjects have included the likes of acclaimed Australian artist Margaret Olley, Moonee Ponds icon Dame Edna Everage, and Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett.
The top gong for this year was awarded to artist Vincent Namatjira, the first indigenous artist to win the Archibald Prize. His vibrant work ‘Standing strong for who you are’ depicts Australian sporting legend Adam Goodes, and also features Namatjira himself.
“Adam Goodes is a proud Aboriginal man who stands strong for his people, and I’m honoured to have painted his portrait,” says Namatjira. “I first met Adam in 2018, when he visited the school in Indulkana where I live, as part of his work promoting Indigenous literacy.”
“When I saw the 2019 documentary (The Final Quarter) about Adam’s final season of AFL football my guts were churning as I relived Adam’s experiences with relentless racism on and off the field. As I watched, memories of my own experiences were stirred up and I knew I wanted to reach out and reconnect with Adam.”
“We share some similar stories and experiences – of disconnection from culture, language and country, and the constant pressures of being an Aboriginal man in this country. We ‘ve also both got young daughters, and don’t want them to have to go through those same experiences we had growing up.”
A highlight of the competition is the subsequent regional touring exhibition, which gives art fans a chance to see all the finalists in galleries across New South Wales and Queensland.
First cab off the ranks is the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre in Murwillumbah, on display from now until March 7. Tickets are available here. Tickets are available here.
Can’t make it to Tweed? Here’s the full touring schedule.
22 January 2021 – 7 March 2021
Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre
19 March 2021 – 2 May 2021
Cairns Art Gallery
14 May 2021 – 27 June 2021
Griffith Regional Art Gallery
9 July 2021 – 22 August 2021
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery
3 September 2021 – 17 October 2021
Shoalhaven Regional Gallery
29 October 2021 – 9 January 2022
Penrith Regional Gallery, Home of the Lewers Bequest