When Fiona Lowry first saw Penelope Seidler, wife of the fellow architect Harry, six years ago at a gallery opening, she was struck by her beauty and presence.
“I decided then that I would like to paint her,” the Sydney artist said today, after being named the winner of the 2014 Archibald Prize for her ethereal, pastel-coloured portrait of Seidler in the garden of the historic Killara house her late husband designed for her.
“It’s an incredible space architecturally but it is also loaded with history and memories of life very well lived. We spent some time in the bush at the back of the property looking at the waterfall. At one point, Penelope looked back at the house towering over us and reflected that it had been some time since she had seen it from this angle. It was that reflection that I wanted to explore with this portrait,” Lowry explained.
The Art Gallery of NSW trustees, headed by Transfield Holdings CEO Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, chose Lowry’s work for the $75,000 from among 54 portraits featuring the likes of Cate Blanchett, Nick Cave, Adam Goodes, Missy Higgins, cyclist Anna Meares and Barry Humphries. There were 884 Archibald entries in this 93rd award.
It’s the 40-year-old artist’s third time in the Archibald Prize. Last year she was highly commended and was a finalist in both the Wynne and Sulman prizes. She is also a Sulman finalist.
Michael Johnson has won the $35,000 Wynne Prize for landscape with his abstract work on Oceania. Andrew Sullivan took out the $30,000 Sulman Prize, judged by Jenny Watson, for genre for his work T-rex. The Watercolour Prize winner is John Webb for his work Near Mildura and the Pring Prize for watercolour went to GW Bot for her work Glyphs – three trees (homage to Rembrandt).
Last week the Packer’s Prize (judged by gallery staff who unpack the artworks) went to Tim Storrier for his portrait of Barry Humphries as his alter ego, Sir Les Patterson.
Art lovers now have the chance to choose their own favourite work and vote for it in the People’s Choice award.
This year’s Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition opens tomorrow, July 19, at the Art Gallery of NSW and runs until September 28 before touring regionally to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, and a number of NSW cities, including Gosford, Maitland, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Broken Hill and Griffith. Entry is $12.
Here are the other winning works:
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