Five-time Archibald Prize finalist Yvette Coppersmith has won the 2018 Archibald Prize and $100,000 for her work Self-portrait after George Lambert. Himself a winner of the 1927 Archibald Prize, Lambert is one of Coppersmith’s favourite Australian artists.
Over the past 21 years, Coppersmith has experimented widely with style and subject matter but she keeps returning to the self-portrait which she says allows her to work from life, with intense absorption in the painting process. Coppersmith is only the tenth female artist to win the Archibald Prize (with 12 winning portraits among them – Judy Cassab and Del Kathryn Barton have won twice).
Of her win, Coppersmith said, “Hearing of the win this morning my mind was scrambling to integrate the surreal news about something that’s been 20 years in the making. I’m still trying to fathom it!”
Art Gallery of New South Wales curator of Australian art Anne Ryan said the work is an uncompromising portrait of Coppersmith as a woman and as an artist. “Coppersmith is a modern woman asserting her place in the venerable tradition of Australian portraiture, exemplified by Lambert,” said Ryan.
Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said while there are almost double the number of self-portraits in the Archibald Prize this year than in recent years, winning self-portraits are a rare choice of the Board of Trustees who award the prize. “Yvette is a highly talented young artist who brings a deep and historical understanding of the tradition of contemporary art practice. Her previous paintings as a finalist have been diverse and shown clearly her talent as an artist,” said Brand.
Coppersmith’s previous Archibald Prize finalist works include a portrait of acclaimed singer and actor Paul Capsis in 2008; a portrait of documentarian and media personality John Safran in 2009; a self-portrait, Rose Burn self-portrait, in 2016; and a portrait of Professor Gillian Triggs in 2017.
In awarding the 2018 winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, Board president David Gonski said the judges spent a lot of time discussing the excellent entries. “The Trustees were very complimentary of all the artists’ works which were hung. After much discussion, the decisions were unanimous,” said Gonski.
The 2018 Wynne Prize was awarded to Yukultji Napangati, Kaylene Whiskey was announced the winner of the 2018 Sir John Sulman Prize, and Phillip Edwards was awarded the 2018 Trustees’ Watercolour Prize. New to the Wynne Prize this year is The Roberts Family Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prize, which was awarded to Wawiriya Burton.
An exhibition of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman finalists will be on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 9 September 2018. For more information, visit: www.artgallery.new.gov.au for details.
Image: Yvette Coppersmith Self-portrait, after George Lambert © the artist (detail)