Congratulations to Abbey McCulloch, a finalist in the 2013 Archibald Prize with her portrait of actress Naomi Watts.
We met Abbey in 2011 when we featured her in Issue #2. Back then we discovered her greatest extravagances were champagne, magazines and oil paint. It looks to us that they’re paying off.
Abbey reveals that the portrait took months of planning though it was quickly executed. ‘As a very busy subject, Naomi was difficult to pin down and a confirmation that she could accommodate a sitting came through only a week or so before the deadline for Archibald entries,’ says explains.
‘I happened to be in Los Angeles on the weekend of the Oscars. We met briefly at her house two days after the ceremony, then I jumped on a plane home, using the white areas of the Qantas magazine as a sketchbook, and started the painting as soon as I walked through my door’.
‘I had shot several photographs of her in her quiet backyard in the wake of the heady circus that had been the awards season in LA. I was interested in capturing the emotional effect of this intrusion upon her privacy at this time.’
After appearing in David Lynch’s psychological thriller Mulholland Drive, Watt’s ascent into stardom was a relatively steep trajectory after starring in major films such as 21 grams, King Kong and more recently the Oscar nominated, The Impossible.
No stranger to the Archibald nominee lineup, McCulloch first appeared as a finalist of the prestigious award in 2007 with a portrait of actor Toni Collette, after completing a Research Masters in Visual Arts at the Queensland College of Art the same year. In 2009, Australian Art Collector listed McCulloch as one of Australia’s 50 most collectable artists, and we wholeheartedly believe that this artist’s star shines just as bright as her famous subject.
Internationally renown, The Archibald Prize is both Australia’s most prestigious art award and it’s favourite. Awarded to the best portrait painting, the Archibald Prize is a who’s who of Australian culture with every Australian weighing in on the debate of who should win. The works of all finalists will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 23 March to 2 June, and will then go on to tour nationally, beginning at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in June.