Monday 21 May 2018

Ladies Day At The Gallery

Self-portrait, after George Lambert
Yvette Coppersmith

A small gathering of the Pipistrello colony met at the Art Gallery of New South Wales today to see the 2018 Archibald Prize for portrait painting. It's always Controversy Corner when it comes to the winner, and even the selection of finalists, and very rare that the Punters will agree with the Pundits. As a family, we seemed to share rather similar tastes today, so there was no vociferous squabbling over the relative merits of the entrants, and we all agreed upon what we most certainly did not like.

This year's winner, the self-portrait by Yvette Coppersmith, above, did meet with my approval and made my own shortlist, for which I am sure she is delighted (ahem, no cash prizes forthcoming from me, however). The Russian-born Australian artist George W. Lambert is a favourite painter of this artist and you can see she has captured his spirit in her quite lovely self-portrait. It is modern but convincingly of another era and I do adore her choice of colours (and so complementary with my blog's wallpaper). G.W.L. did seem to rather enjoy painting hands, so she has made a good fist of her tribute with those four confidently rendered fingers.

Just look at these masterful hands:

Self Portrait With Gladioli, 1922
George W. Lambert

 And these:

Miss Helen Beauclerk, 1914
George W. Lambert

The field of favourites was a little thin for me this year, I do admit, and it was a surprise to realise afterwards that my choices were all portraits of women.  My favourite was this painting of the actress Alison Whyte, by Paul Jackson. He was aiming for a Renaissance-style of luminosity and I think he did succeed. The Elizabethan ruff was a quirky accessory to remind us both of her craft and that he didn't just knock this off in a weekend.

Alison Whyte, a mother of the renaissance
Paul Jackson

This portrait by Marcus Wills is of another actress, Lotte St Clair, and was tiny. It measured a mere 12.5cm x 10.5cm! I love miniature artwork and there were only a couple of entrants this year that were small enough to spirit away in a handbag. Most of the artists take a rather literal approach to Go Big or Go Home. I would have liked a bit more colour and some fancy fabric or embellishment to show off his technical skills but I'm sure Lotte loves her compact little portrait.

Marcus Wills

I have included a Special Mention for this portrait of Susan Carland by Andrew Lloyd Greensmith because his biography describes him as a plastic surgeon! How wonderful is it that there are still gentlemen hobbyists out there?

The serenity of Susan Carland
Andrew Lloyd Greensmith

Moving on to the Wynne Prize for Landscape Painting or Figurative Sculpture, I only had a few favourites to write home about. The first was the winner of the Trustees' Watercolour Prize of a snowy, mountainous landscape by Philip Edwards, Glory be, water tree.

Glory Be, Water Tree
Philip Edwards
The next was a series painted on 35mm glass slides by Keith Fyfe, because Miniatures!

As I Recall
Keith Fyfe

Finally, who cannot be swept away by the technical brilliance of Tim Storrier? When I first think of him, I usually think of his fire paintings, so this broiling sea was a cooling change. The bottom left corner shows flowers and the ashes of the American actor Lee Marvin, scattered into a favoured fishing spot off the coast of Cairns in Queensland. Who knew he had an Australian connection?

At Sea (for Pamela)
Tim Storrier
As my taste in art is so very safe, as my little selection above will attest, I am going to be an artistic philistine and say that there was nothing I liked in the Sulman Prize ... Move along, nothing to see ... 

Our arty and foody afternoon was capped off by a family viewing of the film, "The Death of Stalin", which was Unanimously enjoyed (yes, an in-joke from the film there). What a delightful and harmonious family outing we had!


  1. I think Tim Storrier's 'At Sea (for Pamela)' is the show stopper. Magnificent!

  2. I want to see a PORTRAIT OF YOU!


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