The Archibald Prize has been in full swing at the Art Gallery of NSW since 23 March of
this year. Have you had a chance to see it yet? It is one of Australia’s most coveted arts
award and has been running since 1921.
And, like a moth to a flame, we want to see some of the painterly spectacles that have been featured over the last few years. Ok, so we won’t hold out for any Sneaking Duck frame appearances just yet, but give it time. Give it time.
1. JOHN OLSEN (Archibald Prize 2005)
Title: Janus Faced
This one’s debatable – is the face on the left wearing glasses? Or did I just leave my
glasses at home when I wrote this?
Olsen’s painting was inspired by a poem that he wrote in the same year…
Poem – Janus Faced
Sitting this afternoon in the studio,
Now’s the time of freckled leaves & longer shadows.
Men & women after sixty In slippered feet,
Pause on the stairs, Janus faced.
Self delights in well worn brush
On an ancient palette.
Time trickles & avoids defeat. Janus faced.
The piece is in fact a self-portrait of the famous Australian painter himself and here he
styles himself on Janus, the Roman god of doorways. Unfortunately I can find no images or
references to either of them wearing glasses.
2. DEL KATHRYN BARTON (Archibald Prize 2008)
Title: You are what is most beautiful about me
Barton expresses the profound and “greatest gift of [her] life” in this work of her
with her two children Kell and Arella. While her paintings are usually absent of eyewear
(although she uses plenty of make-upesque pastel tones around her subject’s eyes),
interestingly, her last entry to the Archibald prize in 2007 was a portrait of the Sydney
art gallery owner Vasili Kaliman sporting some black rectangular frames. I would have
preferred to see her interpretation of his usual ski goggle-sized pair. Cor!
3. NAFISA NAOMI (Packing Room Prize 2010)
Title: Glenn in black and white
It’s not behind the spectacles that the source of all this man’s power lies; it’s
under that tea cosy. Glenn A. Baker has been been three times crowned the Rock
Brain of the Universe by the BBC. He is known for his extensive knowledge of band
history, is responsible for promoting international rock tours, band management and
interviews. Outside the music genre, he has been recognised as a valued travel
writer and has been twice-awarded the Australian Travel Writer of the Year. WIth our
new range of faux wood frames coming out this year, we reckon some earthy tones
might be more in keeping with his choice of hat.
4. TIM STORRIER (Archibald Prize 2012)
Title: The Histrionic Wayfarer
The art world loves a bit of controversy. So when Tim Storrier and his faceless painting
claimed portraiture’s coveted Archibald Prize in 2012, social media channels lit up like a
Christmas tree. It’s not the first time Tim Storrier has made Archibald news; back in 1968
at the grand young age of 19, he became the youngest artist ever to receive the prestigious
The Histrionic Wayfarer is inspired by a figure that appears in a work by Hieronymus
Bosch c1510. Loaded up with typical traveller’s paraphernalia we are particularly impressed
by these self-levitating spectacles and hope to be featuring them on the Sneaking Duck
website soon. Watch this space.
5. Jenny Sages, People’s Choice 2012
Title: After Jack
This moving self-portrait of the artist entitled “After Jack” is a sequel to last year’s
Archibald entry “My Jack” which illustrated her husband in the last year of his life.
Sages has been highly commended in the Archibald seven times: “What can I say. I
started off with brown hair and I now have white hair”.
The Archibald Prize 2013 runs until 2 June at the Art Gallery of NSW. Adult tickets are priced at $10.
Image credit: Art Gallery of NSW