A self-portrait by Yvette Coppersmith, inspired by one of her favourite painters, the World War One artist George Lambert, has won this year’s $100,000 Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.
The work was chosen by the trustees, led by president David Gonski, from 58 finalists, selected from 794 entries.
It’s the fifth time she’s been a finalist in her 20 year career and Coppersmith is the 10th woman to win the Archibald (Judy Cassab and Del Kathryn Barton won twice).
Her previous subjects have included singer and actor Paul Capsis, comic documentary maker John Safran in 2009 and last year, former Human Rights boss Professor Gillian Triggs.
Talking about her work and the century-old painter who inspired it, Coppersmith said: “His style was academic, yet he supported the avant-garde in Australia and painted portraits of his artistic contemporaries Thea Proctor and Hera Roberts – both independent, self-possessed style-makers at a time of burgeoning female empowerment. In referencing George Lambert’s style, it’s like an outfit slipped on, creating a fixed image of an ever-changing self.”
She had originally wanted to paint New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, but she wasn’t available to sit, so instead she incorporated some of the young politician’s style in her own image.
It was a big year for self-portraits with double the usual number among this year’s finalists.
Among the other awards chosen by the Trustees, the $50,000 Wynne Prize went to Aboriginal painter Yukultji Napangati for his untitled work based on a rock hole and soakage water site among sandhills west of Kiwirrkura in Western Australia where women camped during ancestral times.
The Sulman Prize went to Kaylene Whiskey for a portrait of “two strong kungkas (women)” – Cher and Dolly Parton.
“Dolly has been skateboarding at the shops. She must have bought that Christmas present for Cher because they are good friends, they like to sing together!” Whiskey explained.
The Trustees’ Watercolour Prize went to Phillip Edwards for his watercolour and mixed media on paper Glory be, water tree.
A new award from one of the Trustees was introduced this year: the $10,000 Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize for an indigeneous work entered in the Wynne Prize.
The inaugural award went to 95-year-old Wawiriya Burton for Ngayuku ngura (my country).
Roberts family also donated a new annual acquisition fund of $40,000 to be allocated towards Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artworks from the Wynne Prize.
Among the highly commended works were Vincent Namatjira’s Archibald entry Studio self-portrait; and Paul Ryan for his landscape painting Kembla, Mount Kembla, in the Wynne.
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition opens tomorrow and runs until 9 September 2018.
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