Chosen by head packer Brett Cuthbertson and the staff who unpack and hang the artworks, the 2020 Archibald Packing Room Prize has been awarded to first-time entrant Meyne Wyatt for his self-portrait, Meyne.
Wyatt's win, announced Thursday, September 17, makes him the only First Nations artist to win any of the categories associated with the Archibald Prize, one of the country's most prestigious art awards, in its entire 99-year history. Wyatt, a Wongutha-Tamatji man, is based in Sydney but was born in Western Australia. His is a well-known face, having graced Australian television screens on shows such as Redfern Now, The Leftovers and Neighbours. His stirring four-minute speech from his play, City of Gold, captivated audiences earlier this year when he performed it live on Q&A.
“I have been known to say that artists who enter a self-portrait have no hope of winning the Packing Room Prize, but in this case I made an exception to my rule as Meyne is both an artist and celebrity who is all over Australian television," said Brett Cuthbertson in a statement. “When Meyne came into the gallery to deliver his entry he said he hadn’t painted in some time and the work was just a COVID project. I loved the story and was really impressed with the result."
Wyatt's artwork is only the second self-portrait to win the Packing Room Prize – the first was by Sydney artist Kerrie Lester way back in 1998.
You can go check out Wyatt's portrait for yourself, as well as all other Archibald Prize winners and finalists, at the Art Gallery of NSW from Saturday, September 26 2020 to Sunday, 10 January 2021.