Archibald Prize 2015 Entries

2015’s Archibald Prize is shaping up to be a memorable one. This selection of entries from Bluethumb artists is a small fraction of the 800 plus submitted, but judging by the quality of the work we wouldn’t be surprised if there is at least one finalist in the portraits below. Tackling issues including the treatment of refugees and Queer identity and featuring the likes of top models, authors and radio personalities, each portrait tells a unique Australian story. Good luck on Thursday Bluethumb artists!

In Limbo by Chris Martin

In Limbo - Mozhgan Sham-Ali-Poor

In Limbo is about the circumstances that refugees find themselves in Australia. “We have an appalling record of human rights abuse here, and nobody seems to care because the majority of the public are prepared to let themselves swallow the government party line about it,” says artist Chris Martin.

His subject was chosen in a round about kind of way. “I was going to paint another refugee who is an artist but he suggested that I paint Mozhgan. She has had an appalling time of it, abused by her stepfather in Iran, and at 16 was going to be married off to one of his mates who is 58. Her brother took issue with the stepfather because he’d found out about the abuse, and the police came for him – the stepfather is powerful.  He would have been hung. They both made a run for it, 19 days on a leaky boat. He’s in Darwin in detention, she’s in detention in Brisbane.  She’s also a school girl.”

Martin’s portrait tries to capture some of the suffering Mozhgan has been though. “She’s got a lovely heart and warm smile, somewhat sad and worn down by the two years she’s been kept in limbo by the immigration people,” he explains.

“I met her on the Friday a week before the deadline and wasn’t able to paint her till the Monday, so I was literally blow drying the painting! It had to be dry by Thursday morning. I painted it in 8 hours.”

Martin has never entered the Archibald prize before but was a semi finalist in last year’s Moran and has been a finalist in others including the Black Swan, Shirley Hannan and Xstrata Percival. “I’ve only been painting for 4 years after getting cancer and having a change of priorities. I’ve never been happier.”

Buy Chris Martin’s art online here.

Start the Riot by Kim Leutwyler

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 2.18.29 pm

Kim Leutwyler’s subject is her friend, who also happens to be an activist, designer and one of Australia’s top models, Ollie Henderson. “She uses fashion as a vehicle for encouraging young people to start productive conversations about social change in Australia,” Leutwyler explains. “House of Riot started in the form of 100 hand painted T-shirts with positive political slogans worn by her friends in between runway shows at Fashion Week Australia, 2014. It soon became a fully-fledged fashion label designed to address social issues such as equality, environment and economic status. 20% of t-shirt sales are donated to relevant non-profits.”

Typically creating paintings of LGBTQ-identified and Queer-allied women, Leutwyler’s work explores the line between glorification, objectification and modification, using patterns and abstractions to portray the fluidity and complexities of identity.  “As a feminist member of the LGBTQ community, Ollie publicly speaks openly about the objectification inherent to a career in modelling, and the unrealistic modification of images that sets unattainable standards of beauty. Ollie is constantly evolving both in relation and opposition to her social environment, fighting against binary gender standards by taking on various permutations of androgyny. I can’t think of a more fitting subject for my work.”

On the day Leutwyler began Henderson’s portrait, they spent the afternoon at Moore Park so that she could study her from different angles using indirect natural lighting just before dusk. “We went straight back to my home studio where I began painting straightaway.”

Completing the painting took 4 days, spread out over 2 weeks. “I generally complete a painting in 1-5 days but my parents came over to Sydney for a visit in the middle of completion so I decided to let it ‘rest’ for 9 days before finishing up.”

Henderson is currently away for a month-long visit to London so has not seen the finished work in person. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her reaction to the piece.”

Buy Kim Leutwyler’s art online here.

Chris Nyst by Glenn Miller

Chris Nyst

In October last year, Glenn Miller decided to enter the Archibald for the first time, but only if he could find a high profile subject. “Chris Nyst came to mind because he is an old surfing mate of my cousin, and someone I had met when we were in our teens,” says Miller. “He fitted for the person I was looking to paint: a high profile Gold Coast lawyer, a bestselling novelist, regarded as Australia’s answer to John Grisham, an award winning screen writer and filmmaker, the head of Screen Queensland for several years.” He was pleasantly surprised when Chris Nyst agreed after only one email.

Miller wanted to paint Nyst relaxed at home and their mutual connections made this possible. “When I met him at his house on the Gold Coast, it was like meeting a long lost friend. We chatted about his surfing days hanging out with my cousin and mutual close mates. He and his wife welcomed me into their home, showed me all their much-admired works of art, including a portrait of Chris done by Brendan Abbott, ‘The Post Card Bandit’. He also showed me some impressive paintings that he’d done.” As they hung out, Miller observed Nyst’s every move and tried to absorb a sense of who he is.

The portrait was completed ahead of time. After the sitting last October, Miller took a three week holiday following Christmas to further work on and complete his portrait from pencil drawings and photographs he’d taken. “I did work on his portrait off and on for another couple of months,” he adds.

Buy Glenn Miller’s art online here.

Dr Karl by Jac Clark


Jac Clark first listened to Dr Karl’s Science hour on triple j during Art class back in high school. “He was my first thought when trying to pick a subject. I still love listening to his segment while painting,” says Clark. He lived up to her expectations when they met for the sitting. “Unsurprisingly, Dr Karl is incredibly intelligent and equally friendly. He shared so much knowledge  – if only I could retain half of it!”

Dr Karl’s personality shines through in her portrait. “I found it fascinating that when anyone asked for a photo with him, he would take the time to pose with them in his sequence of poses – I chose pose 5 ‘Charlie’s Angels’ to paint for my entry. To me – his personality, individuality and energy was captured perfectly in his poses with strangers.”

“I worked on four pieces in different styles over 6 months. I worked the most on this piece and pretty much till the very end!” She is crossing her fingers that her first Archibald entry makes it to the finals.

Buy Jac Clark’s art online here.

The Transience of Sound by Marco Corsini

Marco Corsini, The transience of sound, (Jo Beaumont), 2015, Oil on linen, 150 cm. x 120 cm. medium

The subject of Marco Corsini’s portrait is one of his painting students, Jo Beaumont. “I knew she was a violinist and gradually realised how much she had achieved,” Corsini says. “Her passion for the violin spoke to me when in class, she picked up an old violin we were using for a still life and patiently and lovingly tuned it back to life.”

Corsini describes Beaumont as warm, down to earth, empathetic, yet very driven in her craft. “I have tried to show these characteristics through her face with the landscape and textures representative of her journey. Jo spent thirty years working in Italy, becoming Deputy Leader of the Orchestra at La Scala in Milan and Professor of Violin at Milan Conservatorium. She tells the story of hitch hiking across Europe with her violin in hand to attend an audition with La Scala.”

Although he’s never entered the Archibald before, Corsini was well prepared. “It was nine months from our first sitting to completion. I had enough time to have an extended period in which I watched and adjusted the painting.”

Buy Marco Corsini’s art online here.

Maz Dixon by Ben Tankard

maz smaller final

According to Ben Tankard, “Fellow artists make great subjects,” which explains why he chose Sydney artist Maz Dixon. “She was in the Sulman Prize the same year I was. I admire her work and the humour of it.” In his portrait, Tankard has tried to replicate some of Dixon’s signature style. “Maz uses a lot of blue, a very distinctive blue, and I’ve tried to replicate that in the background colour here. I’ve also added a pineapple, which occur frequently in her work (along with giant prawns and sea mammals),” he explains.

“Maz is a friendly, good-natured person, so I’ve gone for her smiling here, though my own preference is probably for grumpier expressions!”

Finishing the portrait in time went right down to the wire. “I stopped painting on Tuesday and delivered it on Wednesday. It took me an unusually long time to paint, and I really struggled with it, painting over features many times, moving them, changing sizes, changing the skin tones. I had a spare canvas ready in case I totally botched it. One of the most challenging paintings I’ve ever done, and though I like it as a painting, I’m still not satisfied with the likeness.”

Tankard has entered the Archibald previously so is realistic about his chances of making the finals. “You have to keep in mind that they get about 800 entries for the Archibald, and they only select about 40, so if you keep that figure in mind – about 5% – you’ll have a realistic level of hope. I was speaking to a high-profile artist recently, and he suggested that you don’t get in until you stop pushing it, stop trying to please the judges, and just be you – which is a bit Zen and a healthy outlook.”

Buy Ben Tankard’s art online here.

Bluethumb’s Kim Leutwyler makes Archibald finals

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