Floods inspire Blak Douglas’ Archibald victory | Wollondilly Advertiser

A portrait of artist Karla Dickens by native painter Blak Douglas has won this year’s coveted Archibald Prize.

Art Gallery of NSW Trustees unanimously selected the portrait, titled Moby Dickens, to take possession of Australia’s best-known art award Friday, at $100,000.

Mr Douglas, a Sydney-based artist with Dhungatti heritage, portrayed Ms Dickens, a Wiradjuri artist, during the recent flooding in her hometown of Lismore in northern New South Wales, which devastated her community.

“I am delighted to be the first New South Wales First Nations artist to win a painting by a New South Wales First Nations artist. It is a significant historic victory,” said Mr Douglas.

“Karla is my favorite female First Nations artist, we’re good friends, we’re birdies when it comes to our sentiment in art, and I really admire the way she puts her work together.

“Coincidentally, I was there in Lismore right after the first deluge in January and saw the shock and horror on the people’s faces.

“Karla had just reached a pivotal point in her career and almost immediately the flood disaster happened.

“So, while she should normally have been excited about where her career was headed, she hosted three families in Lismore as part of her own rescue mission.”

Mr. Douglas is a five-time Archibald finalist and was also a 2009 Wynne Prize finalist.

He was one of 52 finalists whose work included portraits of the likes of Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman and former politician and Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett.

A self-portrait of last year’s winner Peter Wegner, a seven-time Melbourne finalist, was also in the running.

This year’s Sulman Prize was awarded to Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro for their work entitled Raiko and Shuten-doji. The duo will receive $40,000.

The $50,000 Wynne Prize was awarded to Nicholas Harding for his Eora painting.

The award recognizes the best figurative sculpture or landscape painting of the Australian landscape.

Judged by guest artist Joan Ross, the Wynne Prize recognizes the best subject of painting, genre painting or mural painting in oil, acrylic, watercolor or mixed media.

The critically acclaimed honor this year went to Sydney artist Jude Rae for her portrayal of scientist, engineer and inventor Dr. Saul Griffith.

This year’s Archibald Prize, awarded annually since 1921, saw a record number of entries from Aboriginal artists and the highest number of Aboriginal finalists in all three competitions.

More than 1,900 entries were received for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman awards.

Considered one of the most prestigious art awards in the country, the Archibald showcases everyone from politicians, celebrities, athletes and artists.

Sydney artist Claus Stangl, who created a 3D portrait of Kiwi film director Taika Waititi, won the $3,000 Packing Room Prize, a category awarded by gallery workers who receive, unpack and hang the portraits.

All finalists will be on display at NSW’s Art Gallery from Saturday through August 28.

Australian Associated Press

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