The art gallery of NSW is buzzing with artists delivering their work for exhibition in Australia’s favourite portrait competition.
A portrait of Senator Jacqui Lambie is among the first of the paintings to arrive at the NSW Art Gallery for this year’s Archibald exhibition.
The portrait is by Sydney artist Tania McMurtry, who says it was really difficult to combine how the media has portrayed Lambie, with her own, and the public’s perception of her.
“[The painting] is honest and direct and un-complex, like she is.
“She speaks really honestly, and whether you agree with her or not, you have to admire that.
“And she handles all those men in parliament really well I think.”
Ms McMurtry, who greatly admires the Independent senator, believes she is one of many artists to paint Lambie this year, but hopes her piece will stand out from the rest.
“I have painted her on wood because of her Tasmanian heritage, I’ve painted her black and white because she is a very black and white person and I’ve added some colour and light, because I think that’s what she adds to the political spectrum in Australia.”
The annual art competition which is open to all Australian artists will award the winner the biggest ever cash prize of $100,000 this year and organisers are expecting bigger numbers than ever before.
“I have painted her on wood because of her Tasmanian heritage, I’ve painted her black and white because she is a very black and white person."
Gallery stores officer Steve Peters, who picks the ‘packing room prize’, says the best he has seen so far is a portrait of Michael Caton that arrived today.
Mr Peters says so far entry numbers are on par with last year, but it is very early in the week.
“Once people realise the prize money has gone up, they will open up a can of Dulux, put it on a canvas and have a bit of a paint.”
Finalist from 2013 Mertim Gökalp lugged his large seven kilogram artwork on the train from his studio in St Leonards to Town Hall station, and then walked the rest of the way to the art gallery in The Domain.
“This is my sacrifice. I’m so tired.” He said.
Mr Gökalp is hoping to emulate his previous success in the competition, with his recreation of a painting by Italian artist Caravaggio, which pictures the burial of Jesus.
In his own painting, ‘The sacrifice of the model’ Mr Gökalp wants to shift the focus of his artwork away from artists to the models themselves, especially his model Amy.
“There are many artists on this painting but this time I am trying to say all the artists paint models but they are mostly not named, we don’t know who they are, it is just the artists named.”
I wanted to show my respect to all the models.”
Mr Gökalp is a Turkish-Australian who has been awarded a distinguished talent visa in recognition of his art skills. He will take his Australian citizenship test next month, after having lived here for six years.
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from July 18 to September 27.