It’s true, it’s Archibald Prize time again and everyone is cashing in. Including us. We’re not too proud to admit that every time we say “2005 Archibald Prize” in conjunction with an article on the 2005 Archibald Prize, or just say “2005 Archibald Prize” in passing, some kid doing their homework on the web will find the words “2005 Archibald Prize” in their search engine and come and visit us to see the article on the 2005 Archibald Prize. You see, we’re not too proud.
Someone mentioned that they got depressed that we were even covering the 2005 Archibald Prize, like it’s all we ever talk about. Not true. Or only partly untrue. Whatever. It’s Archibald Prize time again. The print media have been using their tried-and-true Archibald formula. So far we’ve had a cover story in Spectrum in the Sydney Morning Herald by John McDonald that was notable for the completely gratuitous swipes he took at Adam Cullen and some pointers to the art world of how to get into the prize.
Over at The Australian, Sebastian Smee knocked out an article that was topped off by a new feature in the paper’s visual arts coverage: a photo of a smiling doofus in suit and tie with the byline “Sebastian Smee: National art critic”.
The article covered all the really useful and relevant information such as how many times Robert Hannaford has won the People’s Choice prize but not the actual Archibald and how much he charges ($28,000 for a “standard”, $25k to $26k for a head and shoulders, or put another way, an extra $2k to $3k for legs. Interestingly, Lewis Miller charges $20,000 for the full monty, or just $4,500 for a head and shoulders. Lewis is clearly offering the best deal). It was up to Matthew Westwood, a journalist who sadly doesn’t rate a picture of his smiling face, to write up an entirely predictable “last minute entries” story.
We scanned through the Daily Telegraph online to see if we could find anything about the Archibald but apparently News Limited bosses think the ‘working class’ readers of their dusty old tabloid have no interest in the visual arts at all. In their Entertainment section is news of Australian Idol star
Shannon Noll’s $1000 fine and disqualification from driving for nine months for drink driving but no Archie. The Maitland Mercury has a story on local artist Sophie Webb entering a portrait of Sue Cruickshank, but not the Terror… Go figure.
Looking further afield, we discovered a few sites tangentially related to the prize.
One seemed very inviting indeed and judging by the URL we thought for a moment that this site was called Arts Mitten, a warm woolen art glove that you could rub all over your face. Actually, it’s called Art Smitten and it’s the web site of Elizabeth Gordon-Werner. One may peruse her 2005 Archibald Prize entry, a portrait of Helena Rathbone, Principal Second, Soloist and Guest Leader with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. When you view this portrait you can almost hear music.
Josonia Palaitis, who has done some very nice portraits of John and Jeanette Howard, Bill Leak, PP McGuiness and Ray Martin has entered a striking self portrait that may be viewed at her web site. Palaitis was also featured in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald last week which disqualifies her from getting into the prize, let alone winning it.
Few other artists appear to have posted their paintings as diligently as Gordon-Werner or Palaitis, but we found what has the best offer on the web: Dr. Garry Darby is offering confused punters a chance to luxuriate in his knowledge by taking a guided tour of the Archibald exhibition. With only three tour slots open at $20 a person, you’d better get in quick.