WINNER: Tony Costa, with his oil on canvas titled Lindy Lee, of the leading contemporary Australian artist and Zen Buddhist.
WINNER: Tony Costa, with his oil on canvas titled Lindy Lee, of the leading contemporary Australian artist and Zen Buddhist. AGNSW, Mim Stirling

Archibald exhibition arts coup a boost for Coast

GOSFORD Regional Gallery is one of just six venues to host this year's touring exhibition of the Archibald Prize finalists.

It's only the third time in its 98 years that the Archibald has come to the Central Coast.

It's definitely a coup for the gallery, with curator Sarah Samild saying most regional galleries in NSW vie for the honour of hosting Australia's favourite, most prestigious and controversial portraiture prize.

"It's a wonderful opportunity - people love seeing it in their own region and it's a tribute to the calibre of our facility to have it here," Sarah said.

The sheer size of many of the paintings means just having the space to display them all properly is a feat in itself.

All 51 finalists (of a record 919 entries) will be showcased, with public programs and events run during the exhibition from November 15-January 12 to be shared closer to the time.

First awarded in 1921, the Archibald is also one of Australia's oldest art awards, judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW, with subjects this year more diverse than ever, no politicians, and almost as many female as male artists represented.

This year's winner (and a former three-time finalist) is Tony Costa, with his oil on canvas titled Lindy Lee, of the leading contemporary Australian artist and Zen Buddhist.

"The challenge for me is to trap the energy of my sitter - the emotional feeling over and above the physical reality," the 64-year-old said.

 

Packing Room Prize winner Tessa Mackay's Through the Looking Glass, a portrait of actor David Wenham.
Packing Room Prize winner Tessa Mackay's Through the Looking Glass, a portrait of actor David Wenham. AGNSW, Mim Stirling.

The almost equally sought-after Packing Room Prize went to Tessa Mackay's oil on linen of actor David Wenham, titled Through the Looking Glass.

"Aware of my fondness for sitting, people watching and general daydreaming, Tess had a very clear vision of what the look, feel and purpose of the portrait should be," Wenham said.

He admitted he had no idea how she was going to pull off something of the complexity she suggested, with windows within windows, multiple reflections and numerous light sources, but from November, you can judge for yourself if she managed to do it.

The Archibald Prize is just part of the newly released Gosford Regional Gallery Winter/ Spring Program, which also sees the return of the Gosford Art Prize, for the first time including an Aboriginal Art prize.

It should reinforce the latest Tripadvisor rating of the gallery and its Japanese garden as the number one attraction in Gosford.

See centralcoast.nsw.gov.au/galleries.


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