In his inaugural year as judge of the Archibald Packing Room Prize, having negotiated 52 per cent of the vote after Steve Peters retired from the Gallery in 2017, head packer Brett Cuthbertson and his packing room team have awarded the 2018 Packing Room Prize to Sydney artist and newcomer finalist, Jamie Preisz, for his portrait of singer/songwriter Jimmy Barnes AO, titled Jimmy (title fight).
Cuthbertson, who spotted the work on day one of Archibald Prize submissions to the Gallery, said none of the entries he saw after the arrival of the portrait of Barnes matched up to the attraction the work held for him.
“Look, to be honest, when the work arrived, I’d just been asked by a journalist who I’d like to see painted this year,” said Cuthbertson. “Fair dinkum, I said Barnesy would be great.”
“I turned around after the interview, and there was a young artist turning his work around so we could see it. I couldn’t believe it. It was of Barnsey. The portrait stuck in my head for the week we were receiving entries. By the final day of submissions, it was still the only contender for me,” added Cuthbertson.
Artist Jamie Preisz approached Barnes after seeing an interview in which the musician spoke about his struggles with mental health issues. He said it was a pleasure to paint Jimmy. “His openness and honesty about his own struggles was the inspiration for this piece and hopefully an inspiration to the Australian public,” said Preisz.
“I want to spark some conversation about mental health and addiction in this country, and I’m honoured to have been given a platform to share my passion for both this subject and my practice, to a wider audience.”
Barnes, who is currently performing a national stage show based on his chart-topping second memoir, Working Class Man, said he enjoyed sitting for Preisz. “I was excited when I was asked to sit for Jamie, it’s good to get the opportunity to work with a young artist,” said Barnes.
“I was really pleased with the concept of painting me with my hands strapped like a boxer – I remember my father strapping his hands like this for a fight so it was something that appealed to me. “I’ve fought a lot of battles myself in life and I think this painting really captures that. I’m really happy with the outcome,” added Barnes.
The Packing Room Prize – a cash prize of $1500 for the artist – is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries.
Finalists for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes were also announced today, as were the finalists for the Young Archie competition. Finalists in all Prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from 12 May to 9 September. For more information, visit: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Jamie Preisz, Jimmy (title fight), 2018 [detail]- courtesy of the Art Gallery of NSW