In a history-making moment on Friday, September 25, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands artist and Western Arrernte man Vincent Namatjira took out the coveted Archibald Prize for his portrait of community leader and sportsman Adam Goodes and himself, titled 'Stand strong for who you are'.
Said Namatjira in a live cross, “I’m so proud to be the winner of the Archibald Prize, and to be the first Aboriginal artist to win is really special. I feel like this is a very important moment in Australian art. It’s an honour to be the first, but I also want to acknowledge all of the Indigenous finalists and Indigenous sitters for the Archibald this year and in past years."
Namatjira won Highly Commended in the Archibald Prize in 2018, and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2020 for his significant contribution to Australia's arts sector. His win marks the first time that a First Nations artist has taken out the award in its 99-year history. The Archibald Prize is chosen by the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, where the finalists and winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes will hang until January 10, 2021 (find out more here). Board president David Gonski, said that this year, the decision was unanimous.
As well as the Archibald Prize, winners of the Wynne and Sulman prizes were also announced in the noon ceremony on September 25. In more great news, Western Aranda-Luritja man Hubert Pareroultja took out the Wynne Prize, awarded for landscape and scenery paintings or figure sculptures, for his painting 'Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges, NT)', making it a great day for First Nations artists.
Earlier this month, actor, advocate and artist Meyne Wyatt also made waves when he won the Packing Room prize, awarded by the gallery staff who unpack and hang the portraits, for his self-portrait. Wyatt became the first First Nations winner to win any of the prizes associated with the Archibald.
Marikit Santiago won the Sulman Prize, awarded to the best subject, genre painting or mural project for her work 'The divine'.