Jaq Grantford awarded Archibald Prize 2023 ANZ People’s Choice award for portrait of Noni Hazlehurst

AGNSW-Jaq-Grantford-Through-the-window-photo-by-Jenni-CarterFirst-time Archibald Prize finalist Jaq Grantford has been announced as the winner of the Archibald Prize 2023 ANZ People’s Choice award for her portrait, Through the window, of beloved former Play School presenter and Logie Hall of Fame inductee Noni Hazlehurst.

Melbourne-based Grantford set out to portray Hazlehurst’s signature energy and warmth. The result is a captivating portrait of Hazlehurst, who is depicted smiling and gazing through a rain-flecked window – a nod to her Play School days. 

Grantford explains that the symbols drawn onto the window are symbols for safety and protection, “not just for her, but for everyone in these uncertain times.”

The artist and her sitter have a history of working together, first collaborating on a portrait in 2017 titled The story teller. In 2022, The story teller was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, moving Grantford to decide to create another portrait of Hazlehurst for her 2023 Archibald Prize entry.

Grantford said she was ‘blown away’ to have received this year’s ANZ People’s Choice award. “It’s such an incredible honour to win the People’s Choice award and a real testament to how beloved Noni is,” she said.

“She is such a delightful person, and I love how people’s faces light up when they mention her name. She has a real magic about her.”

“I love her passion for the things she believes in, and she has a wonderful depth to her – an empathetic, credible face as a presenter and a sensitive and insightful actor.”

“To try to capture Noni on canvas was an absolute joy. I feel very humbled that people connected with the portrait and how Noni was portrayed. A most heartfelt thank you to all those who voted,” said Grantford.

A full-time portrait artist, Grantford grew up in Melbourne and discovered a passion for portraiture as a young child. As well as the National Portrait Gallery, her work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, MEAM European Museum of Modern Art and many others. In 2022, she won the National Portrait Gallery’s Darling Portrait Prize for a self-portrait.

Noni Hazlehurst AM is a multi-award-winning actor, presenter, writer and director, whose 50-year career encompasses theatre, film, television and radio. She is beloved by many generations for her 24 years on ABC’s Play School and 10 years presenting Channel 7’s Better Homes and Gardens.

Hazlehurst is also widely respected for her many dramatic roles across television, cinema and stage including Nancy WakeThe ShiraleeA Place to Call HomeMonkey GripJune AgainLittle Fish and Candy and her one-woman stage hit Mother.

In 1995, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to children and the performing arts, and in 2016 was the second woman inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame.

This year marks Hazlehurst’s second appearance in the Archibald Prize, after sitting for Rosemary Valadon’s 1994 finalist portrait Noni Hazlehurst – summer ‘94 waiting again.

Upon learning of Grantford’s win, Hazlehurst said “I’m thrilled for Jaq to have this recognition for her exquisite talent,” she said. “Her portraits are remarkable, not only for their verisimilitude, but also for her unique and thoughtful storytelling ability.

“There is a warmth and authenticity about her work, which evokes a strong visceral connection between the artist, the subject and the viewer,” said Hazlehurst.

Art Gallery of New South Wales deputy director and director of collections Maud Page said Grantford’s portrait of Hazlehurst was a clear crowd favourite among visitors to the Archibald Prize in 2023.

“The ANZ People’s Choice award is always a highlight of the Archibald Prize, as the power lies with the public to determine which of the year’s finalists captured their attention,” said Page. “We congratulate Jaq Grantford on charming our visitors with her heart-warming portrait of Noni Hazlehurst.”

The Archibald Prize People’s Choice was first awarded in 1988 and is now supported by presenting partner ANZ. This year 15,542 visitors to the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2023 exhibition voted in the competition.

As winner of the 2023 ANZ People’s Choice award Grantford takes home $5000, thanks to ANZ. The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2023 and the Young Archie competition are generously supported by presenting partner ANZ.

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2023 continues at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 3 September. This is followed by a tour of Archibald Prize 2023 finalists to Victoria and regional New South Wales until August 2024, and a tour of Wynne Prize 2023 finalists to regional New South Wales until June 2024.

Image: Archibald Prize 2023 ANZ People’s Choice award winner, Jaq Grantford, Through the window © the artist, image © AGNSW, Jenni Carter