Mitch Cairns, Agatha Gothe-Snape, 2017. Photo: Mim Stirling for AGNSW

Mitch Cairns Wins $80,000 Archibald Prize

Sydney artist Mitch Cairns was awarded this year’s $80,000 Archibald Prize for a stylized portrait of his artist partner, contemporary artist Agatha Gothe-Snape. “I composed this portrait with love. Agatha and I share everything in our lives; our two-year-old son; our work as artists; and our day-to-day lives,” Cairns said. Cairns is a four-time Archibald Prize finalist.

The oil, which pays tribute to Henrí Matisse’s works from the early 1900s, began as a series of drawings. Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales’s board president David Gonski said, “There were many great Archibald contenders this year, but it was the skill and sensitivity of Mitch’s portrait which left a significant impression on us all.”

The Archibald prize is awarded each year to a portrait “preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics.” The gallery’s board of trustees, who served as the jury, said that the award received 822 submissions, from which forty-three finalist portraits were selected.

AGNSW also announced that Betty Kuntiwa Pumani from Antara in South Australia was awarded the $40,000 Wynne Prize. Commenting on her winning landscape of Antara, the artist said that the piece is a celebration of her Anangu culture. “My family is responsible for taking care of this country,” she said. “The ancestors taught the lessons of taking care of the country, and these lessons have been passed through the generations.”

Joan Ross was named the 2017 Sulman Prize winner for her mixed-media work Oh history, you lied to me, 2017. Ross is a first-time finalist for the $32,000 Sulman Prize, which was judged by indigenous artist Tony Albert.