Bald Archy Prize debuts in Newy and features local talent

TRIBUTE: The winning work, a portrait of Ahn Do, from the 2018 Baldy Archy Prize by James Brennan.

TRIBUTE: The winning work, a portrait of Ahn Do, from the 2018 Baldy Archy Prize by James Brennan.

THE Bald Archy Prize exhibition has made its way to Newcastle for the very first time. 

This year’s Archy was won by Hunter Valley artist James Brennan for his portrait of Ahn Do titled Anh Can Do. 

Brennan, who has taken out the prize on four occasions, said he chose Ahn Do as his subject matter for the prize because he admires him. 

“I have seen his television series and his works in the Archibald Prize and thought he would make a good subject,” Brennan said.

 “It really is a tribute to Ahn Do.”

The work draws on the famous Norman Rockwell self-portrait in which the American artist paints his own portrait using his reflection in a mirror.

However, in Brennan’s work the brass helmet balancing on top of the easel is replaced with a slouch hat, complete with corks dangling from a strings. 

The eagle at the top of the mirror, in Brennan’s work, becomes the Australian national emblem, featuring a kangaroo and emu. 

The work also references the ABC television series Ahn’s Brush With Fame, in which the artist meets with and then paints prominent Australians. 

Newcastle’s Judy Nadin was a finalist in the 2018 Bald Archy for her caricature of Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, titled Two Rights Don’t Make a Wong. 

The work depicts Senator Corey Bernardi and Tony Abbott in wedding dresses. 

“It’s about the same sex marriage debate,” Nadin said. 

“Bernardi and Abbott’s relentless opposition and relentless tactics to stop it and Penny Wong looking very smug in the front stroking a cat called a Malcolm.” 

Nadin has also previously won the award.  

According to founder of the prize Peter Batey, the competition celebrates the “Australian larrikin sense of humour”. 

It was launched in 1994 as a spoof of the Archibald Prize and as a way to provide artists of  “all styles and standards with a genuine opportunity, ranging from the hilarious to the bizarrely vulgar, to create portrait paintings of humour, dark satire, light comedy or caricature”.

The exhibition features works from 45 finalists, including Judy Nadin. 

It is on at Rydges Hotel, Wharf Road, until September 1. 

It’s open daily from 10am-4pm. Entry is $5 for adults and children are free.