Matt Adnate awarded Packing Room Prize 2024 for portrait of Baker Boy

AGNSW Winner Packing Room Prize 2024 Matt Adnate Rhythms of heritageA portrait of ARIA Award-winning Yolnu rapper, dancer, artist and actor Baker Boy by Northern Rivers-based artist Matt Adnate has taken out the 2024 Packing Room Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, among 57 finalists in Australia’s most prestigious art award, the Archibald Prize 2024.

Rhythms of heritage marks Adnate’s second time as an Archibald Prize finalist, following his 2023 finalist painting of musician and former Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns.

Now in its 33rd year, the Packing Room Prize is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize as judged by the Art Gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries. The prize, valued at $3000, is selected in 2024 by the ‘Packing Room pickers’Ti – mothy Dale, Monica Rudhar and Alexis Wildman, with the broader Packing Room team.

“Matt Adnate is an incredible Australian street artist renowned for his large mural paintings. His portrait of singer-songwriter Baker Boy in his signature style is characterised by grand scale, vivid colours and a gaze that draws you in,” said Rudhar.

“Matt and Baker Boy are both highly accomplished in their respective fields and share a mutual recognition of each other’s talents. Matt’s powerful portrait encapsulates Baker Boy as the inspirational Indigenous storyteller that he is, mirroring the joy and hope that his music brings to the world.”

Born in Victoria, Adnate immersed himself in urban street culture during his youth, embracing graffiti, music and skateboarding. He began his artistic career as a street artist, creating large murals in public spaces that blend hyper-real portraiture, abstraction and surrealism.

His signature murals are now instantly recognisable features of the skyline in metro and regional Australia, including gracing a 20-storey community housing tower in inner Melbourne and a 25-storey hotel in Perth, and also feature internationally.

An avid music fan, Adnate first met Danzal Baker, known professionally as Baker Boy, a decade ago and was awed by his talent as a dancer. They developed a friendship that has led to Adnate painting Baker Boy for multiple murals and portraits, and Baker Boy performing at Adnate’s art events.

The pair collaborated on the cover art for Baker Boy’s award-winning 2021 debut album Gela, which portrayed the musician as both a deeply connected Yolnu youth and a rising star in the mainstream music world. They won the 2022 ARIA Award for Best Cover Art for their design.

On receiving the news, Adnate said he was ‘absolutely stoked’ to win the Packing Room Prize 2024.

“I have always been inspired by music as it can help me channel and evoke strong emotion into my work. It gives me the energy to keep painting, from canvases in my studio to large-scale murals. I’m in awe of artists like Baker Boy who have the power to use music to transform people’s mood, mind and energy,” said Adnate.

“It was an honour to paint him again and capture the intensity of his music. It has been incredible to watch Baker Boy evolving into a multi-talented and award-winning artist over the last decade, cementing his legacy as an Australian music icon.”

“I learned to paint through doing graffiti letters as a teenager; I switched to portraiture in 2010. This painting was produced mostly with spray paint, a medium that has always allowed me the most control. It’s been a challenge to maintain my own technique and resist the pressure to use oils or more traditional mediums.”

“I’ve always considered the Archibald to be the pinnacle of art prizes, especially for portraiture. To win the Packing Room Prize with a portrait that is so significant to me, and to be the first street artist to do so, it really pushes me further,” said Adnate.

Danzal Baker OAM is a multi-award winning, multilingual and multi-disciplinary Indigenous artist. Born in Darwin and raised in Milingimbi and Maningrida in Arnhem Land, he is the first artist to achieve mainstream success rapping in Yolnu Matha, which is his mother tongue.

Known affectionately as the ‘Fresh Prince of Arnhem Land’, Baker Boy rose to prominence as the winner of the Triple J Unearthed National Indigenous Music Awards in 2017. His album Gela took home five ARIA Awards, including Album of the Year in 2022, and Artist of the Year at the 2022 National Indigenous Music Awards.

Baker Boy was named Young Australian of the Year in 2019 and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to performing arts in 2021.

“Big congratulations to Matt for taking home the Packing Room Prize with his portrait of me. It’s unreal to see how he captures me as I am today, reflecting my love for music and a deep connection to my home of Arnhem Land, seen through the soulful reflection in the eyes,” said Baker Boy.

This year, the Art Gallery received 2371 entries across the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, which is the second highest number of entries received in the history of the prizes, following the record year in 2020. The Archibald Prize received 1005 entries, the Wynne Prize received 738 entries, and the Sulman Prize received 628 entries.

In total, 138 works have been selected as finalists across the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2024: 57 finalists in the Archibald, 41 in the Wynne and 40 in the Sulman. Twenty-one works by Aboriginal artists have been selected as finalists in the Wynne Prize 2024, which makes it the first time in the prize’s history that there are more works by Aboriginal artists than non-Aboriginal artists.

The increasingly popular Young Archie competition attracted the highest number of entries in the 12-year history of the competition, with more than 4000 entries received from budding young artists aged five to 18 from across the country. Seventy finalists from across the four age categories have been selected to be exhibited at the Art Gallery and displayed online.

The winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2024 will be announced next Friday 7 June at midday. Winners and all finalists will then be exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from Saturday 8 June to Sunday 8 September 2024.

Following the exhibition at the Art Gallery, Archibald Prize 2024 finalist works will tour to five venues across New South Wales and, for the first time, to the Northern Territory, offering audiences outside Sydney the opportunity to see the finalist portraits up close and personal.

Wynne Prize 2024 finalist works will tour to four venues in regional New South Wales. The Wynne Prize regional tour is proudly supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW’s Blockbusters Funding initiative.

To explore the full list of finalists, find out more about this year’s exhibition and to purchase tickets, visit: for details.

Image: Winner Packing Room Prize 2024, Matt Adnate Rhythms of heritage, spray paint and synthetic polymer paint on linen, 220 x 188.5 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter