Every year I make the pilgrimage to AGNSW to see the Archibald and Wynne Prizes, this year was no exception – just had to see Archibald 2018, but an extra special treat this year was a visit to learn from Wendy Sharpe, previous Archibald Prize recipient, in her studio!
Let’s start with the Archibald……is it as good as previous years? There is some excellent work and I do think the winner, Yvette Coppersmith’s work (Self Portrait after George Lambert) is worthy, but I was not really ‘grabbed by anything special – so I guess it was not full of controversy as it has been some years (Mitch Cairns‘ last year’s winner for instance) – I felt generally that it was ‘safe’. Some beautifully rendered but conventional portraits – I actually liked Peter Berner’s self portrait best – minimal paint and detail but to me very powerful and another that really resonated was Guy Maestri’s self portrait four weeks after bringing home a brand new baby – fatigue plus and bit of paint missing, but brilliant! Brilliant technique in Anne Middleton’s portrait of Guy and great humour in Amber Boardman’s self portrait – ‘Self – care exhaustion’.
Anyway I have a gallery of some of the portraits below for you to check out for yourself….
Now, the Wynne Prize – quite a few newcomers, some faithful – Joshua Yeldham’s magnificent carved paper work ‘Bay of Sorrow – Hawkesbury River’ and the extraordinary Indigenous paintings continue to be totally awesome, huge and breathtaking in their colour and complexity – Maringka Baker, Wawiriya Burton, and the group Naomi Kantjuriny, Mona Mitakiki and Tjimpayi Presley. Another standout was Tim Storrier’s ‘At Sea (for Pamela) – a vast ocean cremation – strangely moving both physically and emotionally. Check out the gallery…
OK the Sulman – I liked Wendy Sharpe’s ‘Erskineville Train Station’, but somehow the Sulman never resonates with me, don’t quite know why.
On to the day at Wendy Sharpe’s studio – what a huge treasure trove! Paint, paintings, props, paraphernalia everywhere. We sat in a circle and Wendy talked about painting, enthusiasm, subject matter, inspiration, how the art world works, how she works. Paint – applying it in various ways, keeping travel diaries, changing things that don’t work. Cups of tea and a magnificent cake that she had made for us.
We toured the studio and Wendy explained the work and we also visited that of her partner, Bernard Ollis. We did some compositional work as played with subject matter in the way that she approaches it – less is more. The whole thing was a feast for the eyes and the mind – it will take ages to process it all!