Namatjira makes history with 2020 Archibald win

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The 2020 Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes were announced on 25 September, with some momentous victories for Indigenous artists, and all three major prize-winners numbering among Copyright Agency’s members.

For the first time in its 99-year history, the Archibald Prize for portraiture was awarded to an Aboriginal artist: Vincent Namatjira, whose painting of former footballer Adam Goodes (Stand strong for who you are) earned him the $100,000 grand prize.

“We share some similar stories and experiences – of disconnection from culture, language and Country, and the constant pressures of being an Aboriginal man in this country,” the Western Arrernte artist said of his sitter. “Goodesy is much more than a great footballer though, he took a strong stand against racism and said, ‘enough is enough’. I stand strong with you too, brother.”

Winner, Archibald Prize 2020. Vincent Namatjira, Stand strong for who you are, acrylic on linen, 152 x 198 cm © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling. Sitter: Adam Goodes – former professional Australian rules footballer.

Namatjira’s win followed the landmark announcement of Wongutha-Yamatji actor Meyne Wyatt as the recipient of the $1,500 Packing Room Prize. He became the first ever Indigenous artist to win any of the Archibald’s categories with his self-portrait Meyne – his first painting in over a decade.

“I decided to enter it at the behest of my artist mother, Sue Wyatt, an Archibald Prize finalist in 2003 for her portrait of writer Doris Pilkington,” Wyatt explained. “I began painting again because I wanted to get back into it at some point, then we went into lockdown [due to COVID-19] and I thought there was no better time than now.”

The Archibald Prize was announced alongside the $50,000 Wynne Prize for landscape painting or figure sculpture, and the $40,000 Sulman Prize for subject painting, genre painting or mural project in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media. This year’s Wynne went to Hubert Pareroultja for his depiction of the highly significant Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges, NT); the Sulman went to Marikit Santiago for her portrayal of her children in The divine.

Winner, Wynne Prize 2020. Hubert Pareroultja, Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges, NT), acrylic on canvas, 183 x 244 cm © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling.

Winner, Sulman Prize 2020. Marikit Santiago, The divine, acrylic, oil, pen, pyrography and 18ct gold leaf on ply, 179.5 x 120.5 cm © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Jenni Carter.

Two more prizes were awarded in relation to the Wynne. First, the $10,000 Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize, which went to Nyunmiti Burton for Seven Sisters (also highly commended for the Wynne Prize). Second, the $5,000 Trustees’ Watercolour Prize, which  went to Julianne Ross Allcorn for Mollitium 2.

Winner, Roberts Family Prize 2020. Nyunmiti Burton, Seven Sisters, acrylic on linen, 200 x 300cm © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Felicity Jenkins.

Winner, Trustees Watercolour Prize 2020. Julianne Ross Allcorn, Mollitium 2, triptych: watercolour, pencil, charcoal on 21 birch wood panels, 185.5 x 329 cm © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling.

Copyright Agency members were well-represented across all three prizes this year, including Namatjira, Pareroultja, Santiago and Burton, plus more than 40 other finalists:

  • Abdul Abdullah
  • Aida Tomescu
  • Alan Jones
  • Alec Baker
  • Alex Seton
  • Benjamin Aitken
  • Betty Muffler
  • Blak Douglas
  • Caroline Rothwell
  • Charlene Carrington
  • Craig Ruddy
  • Dee Smart
  • Del Kathryn Barton
  • Dhuwarrwarr Marika
  • Doris Thomas
  • Gareth Sansom
  • George Tjungurrayi
  • Guy Maestri
  • Imants Tillers
  • Jason Phu
  • Julie Fragar
  • Karen Black
  • Kate Beynon
  • Katherine Hattam
  • Kaylene Whiskey
  • Keith Stevens
  • Kim Leutwyler
  • Leah Brady
  • Marc Etherington
  • Michael Bell
  • Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda
  • Noel McKenna
  • Paul Namarinjmak Nabulumo
  • Peter Mungkuri
  • Philjames
  • Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran
  • Sinead Davies
  • Tiger Yaltangki
  • Tim Storrier
  • Timothy Cook
  • Wendy Sharpe
  • Yukultji Napangati
  • Yuri Shimmyo
  • Yurpiya Lionel

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes are exhibiting now until 10 January 2021. All the incredible finalists can be viewed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, along with this year’s Young Archies, and visitors can vote for their favourite portrait in the ANZ People’s Choice Award.

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