Every year there are a number of prizes, awards and scholarships that an artist can win; many of which offer money, travel and recognition that can be very important in an artist’s career. The Archibald Prize for portraiture is one of Australia's oldest and best-known visual arts awards, and each year, in accordance with the bequest of Jules F. Archibald, the trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales invite artists to submit paintings in competition for the annual Archibald Prize. The Archibald Prize competition, and each year's winning entries, are subjects of great public interest. The competition encourages discussion about painting, portraiture, and larger questions about art and definitions of quality, as few other art prizes do. The prize of $35,000 and the publicity and recognition the prize generates for the winning painter encourages painters entering the competition to stretch their skills. The winning entry is judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the artist must have been a resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures. The artists submitting works in the Archibald Prize must know the subject of the portrait and, in turn, the subject of the portrait must be aware of the artist's intention. There also has to be at least one sitting by the subject for the portrait.
Jules Francois Archibald, Born in Victoria 1856, is the man behind the Archibald prize. He had no desire to become famous, and during his lifetime, shunned publicity and remained evasive and enigmatic. His interest in art led him in his later years to serve as a trustee for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, keen to promote the work of younger artists and writers. When he died in 1919, he left shares in his will with instructions that the money made from the shares was to be used each year as a prize for the best portrait painted by an Australian artist, ‘preferably some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics’.
This year’s exhibition catered for all tastes, with many portraits of different styles, techniques and context, with the use of a variety of mediums including oils on canvas, acrylics on linen, and even charcoal and mixed Medias. Subject matters were both of a realistic, almost look-alike quality, while others were aesthetically different, some with no actual person in the portrait at all and required further reading. The paintings were all hung at eye level so were easily viewed at a leisurely pace, and were spread out roughly around 12-14 paintings each rooms, with about 3 exhibition rooms in total. The paintings were well spotlighted and the room well lit for a clear look at all the paintings, each one spaced accordingly and placed in well thought-out positions. After walking into the first room of the exhibition, when you look straight ahead, the winner is placed at the end of the ‘hallway’ between each room, as if looking out proudly on the rest of the paintings that were unable to share the same glory. The winner of the 2004 Archibald Prize is Craig Ruddy with his portrait David Gulpilil, two worlds. Mixed media on wallpaper on board. Gulpilil is one of Australia's best known Aboriginal actors. Quote: Craig Ruddy, on the subject of his portrait: '... David is a man who crosses the lines that still divide two contrasting worlds ... One is an infinite world of spiritual connection with the land and universe as a whole, and the other a materialistic conformation of western civilisation. Simplicities and complexities infiltrate both worlds and David seems to strike a balance.' Born in Arnhem Land in 1953, Gulpilil achieved international fame through starring roles in such films as ‘The last wave’, ‘Storm Boy’, ‘Crocodile Dundee’, ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ and ‘The Tracker’. Between films Gulpilil leads a normal Aboriginal lifestyle. Ruddy was contemplating painting such a portrait for some time....
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