Archibald, Wynne & Sulman Prizes 2015

Art Life , Exhibitions Jul 13, 2015 3 Comments

From Andrew Frost

Hey everyone, the circus is back in town – the Archibald Prize for Portraiture, the Wynne Prize for Landscape Painting, Figure Sculpture and Murals and the Sulman Prize for Genre Painting. Is it really only a year since we celebrated the crowning of Fiona Lowry for her portrait of Penelope Seidler? Yes, it is, and at this point – just a few days out from the announcement of the 2015 winner – all that stale hoopla is forgotten as artists, their gallerists and people who care about that sort of thing attempt to consult the gods for answers of who might take out the most widely promoted of the annual trio of glittering prizes.


The old hands look for just the right combination of skill, sentiment and subject to pick an Archibald winner and most of the smart money is now on Mitch Cairns to win for his portrait of artist Peter Powditch . The fact that John Beard – artist and former AGNSW trustee – has already won the Archibald probably rules out his portrait of the late great William Wright. Sentiment alone might also give the award to Peter Churcher for his portrait of Betty Churcher The Last Portrait, or the very similar portrait of living legend Judy Cassab by Fillipa Buttitta . No one can really anticipate the decision making of the AGNSW trustees – who saw Tim Storrier‘s 2012 prize coming? – but outsiders with a real chance include Sally Ross‘s Eva, Julian Meagher‘s Daniel Johns and Marc Etherington‘s Del Kathryn Barton and Magic Dog.

The Wynne Prize is an interesting prize if only for the mismatch of eligible forms – how do the trustees judge the worth of a painting against a sculpture? – but also for the wildly variable quality of its finalists. 2015 is spoiled for choice for sculpture including Robert Hague‘s Shutdown, Louis Pratt‘s King Coal and – my pick for the Wynne¬†–¬†Abdul-Rahman Abdullah‘s In the name. The Wynne paintings are also strong but if it goes to painting, it really ought to be Tim McMonagle‘s Bend and Stretch. The Sulman Prize – for a definition of painting that no one really understands anymore – is always the most interesting and since it’s judged by a single judge – this year it’s outgoing AGNSW trustee Lindy Lee – the choices are often inspired and eccentric. With just 24 finalists, this year’s Sulman errs towards a quite classicism, much like Lee’s own work, with strong pieces by Kate Benyon, Marcel Cousins, Tim Johnson and Noel McKenna among others. This one is a stumper for picking a winner – but let’s just say Stephen Ormandy‘s Attention Seeker demands some attention winner or not.

July 18 to September 27
Art Gallery of NSW, The Domain
Pic: Mitch Cairns, Peter Powditch, 2015.

Andrew Frost


  1. Deborah Clark

    What about Andrew Sayers’s portrait of Tim Bonyhady? A better painting and likeness than almost everything you have mentioned thus far. John R Walker or Max Miller for the Wynne; Kate Beynon for the Sulman.

  2. Deborah Clark

    … and Philip Wolfhagen (Wynne), and yes, Noel McKenna (Sulman). But it is a three-ringed circus and anything can happen.

  3. CM


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