HUNTER faces and Hunter places are well represented in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman art prize finalists announced on Thursday.
Two Hunter arts personalities are among the images represented in the 2016 Archibald Prize finalists.
The winner of the prestigious Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW will be announced when the show opens on July 16. The 51 finalists for the $100,000 portrait prize were named on Thursday.
Comedian Rhys Nicholson, who has proudly called Newcastle home in the past, is the subject of a work, Rhys smart mouth, by Wollongong artist Melissa Ritchie. The work depicts Rhys standing next to a life-size box of Redhead matches which features a portrait of him.
Maitland-raised artist Nell is the subject of a portrait by Melbourne artist Heidi Yardley. The work is called Birth/death – portrait of Nell.
Hunter artists were among the finalists announced on Thursday for the $50,000 Wynne Prize (landscape) and the $40,000 Sulman Prize.
Newcastle artist James Drinkwater’s work, Arriving in Nice, France, is among the 25 Sulman finalists. The work was part of a series Drinkwater completed in conjunction with his residency in France last year as winner of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. Drinkwater was a finalist for the Wynne Prize in 2014 and 2015.
Former University of Newcastle academic and artist Richard Tipping is also a Sulman finalist.
The Sulman is awarded for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist.
University of Newcastle graduate and working artist Tracey-Maree Smith’s work, First creek, Redhead Beach, is among the 34 Wynne finalists announced.
Smith, who lives at Redhead, was exultant at making the finals of the landscape competition. “It’s amazing, a dream come true,” she said.
“I feel really connected to the beach,” she says. “It’s quite isolated. I am quite often there by myself with my dog. Redhead is an isolated community. It has its own culture and energy.”
Wollombi artist Haydn Wilson also has a work, Approaching storm over Bulga, the Hunter Valley, in the Wynne finals.
Wilson, who has a doctorate from the University of Newcastle which combines fine arts and paleo botany (extinct plants), has a long association with environmental artworks.
His large work depicts an open-cut coalmine at Bulga, with the village shown in a small sliver in the top right of the image. He said it “carries a fairly pointed message about the loss of farming habitat and the degradation of the Hunter Valley”.
Long-time Newcastle artist Peter Gardiner also has a work in the Wynne finalists, entititled North/black Lung.