Louise Hearman wins the 2016 Archibald Prize with Barry

Melbourne artist Louise Hearman has won the 2016 Archibald Prize with her work, Barry, a hyper-realistic portrait of iconic Australian entertainer Barry Humphries.

The Archibald Prize is the preeminent portraiture prize in Australia, and is awarded to annually to the best portrait ‘of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’. The trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW judge the competition, and the finalists are then displayed in exhibition at the gallery.

There are also a number of other associated prizes, including ‘The Packing Room Prize’, chosen by the gallery staff that receive, unpack and hang the entrants, and the ‘Peoples Choice’, which unsurprisingly is awarded based on public vote.

Impressively, this was Hearman’s first time entering the Archibald. The Melbourne painter has previously won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2014, and later in the year the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney will be exhibiting a major survey of her work.

In talking about her winning artwork, Barry, Hearman spoke of an admiration for Humphries, and how tales of his more extravagant and humorous exploits enchanted her, as a child.

‘For years I had hoped that one day this frighteningly brilliant individual, who also paints, would see a show of mine when he was in Melbourne and like my work. As it happened we became friends through mutual acquaintances and much to my delight Barry agreed to sit for a portrait. I tried many ideas, but as it progressed, the painting itself showed me the way,’ says Hearman.

The Packing Room Prize was this year awarded to Betina Fauvel-Ogden for her portrait of Masterchef’s George Calombaris. Like Hearman, this was Fauvel-Ogden’s first time entering the Archibald.

Announced alongside the Archibald Prize, were the Wynne Prize, this year won by the Ken Family Collaborative and their work Seven Sisters, and the Sulman Prize, which this year was won by Esther Stewart for Flatland Dreaming. The Wynne Prize is awarded to the best landscape painting of Australian scenery, or figure sculpture, while the Sulman Prize is given to the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media.

The exhibition of all the Archibald finalists is now open at the Art Gallery of NSW and runs until the 9th October. For more information and to purchase tickets visit HERE


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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.