First-time Archibald Prize entrant wins Packing Room Prize

Betina Fauvel-Ogden George Calombaris, masterchef © the artist photo by Nick Kreisler AGNSWAdelaide-born Melbourne artist Betina Fauvel-Ogden has won the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ 2016 Packing Room Prize with her portrait of renowned chef, restaurateur and MasterChef Australia judge, George Calombaris.

Fauvel-Ogden paints urban landscapes and occasionally portraits. Last year the artist set her sights on a portrait of Calombaris – despite at that stage never having met him. “I was always interested in George Calombaris as a subject as I felt there was an intensity to his character,” said Fauvel-Ogden.

“After eight months pursuing him, George gave up his valuable time to allow me three sittings. I wanted to paint him in his chef’s white jacket and black apron.”

“In choosing the pose, George felt most comfortable with his hands on his hips. I kept the lighting simple and focused on capturing the determination in his eyes. I had always envisaged a vibrant yellow background for the portrait. When George gave me his cookbook Greek with its bold yellow cover, as a gift at the first sitting, that clinched it,” added Fauvel-Ogden.

The Packing Room Prize – a cash prize of $1500 – is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries. The head of the Art Gallery of New South Wales packing room, Steve Peters, with 51% of the vote, gets the final say. The 2016 Archibald Prize is his 34th and the awarding of the Packing Room Prize his 25th.

Peters said Betina Fauvel-Ogden’s striking work made a strong impression on him on arrival at the Gallery. “It is a very strong portrait. George Calombaris is looking directly at you. He means business,” Peters said. “I’m hoping George will cook me a burger next time I am in Melbourne.”

Finalists for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes were also announced today, as were the finalists for the Young Archie competition. The winners will be announced on Friday 15 July, except for the Young Archie which will be 17 September. The People’s Choice winner will be announced on Wednesday 21 September 2016.

The exhibition of finalists will run 16 July – 9 October 2016. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Betina Fauvel-Ogden George Calombaris, masterchef © the artist – photo by Nick Kreisler / AGNSW