Archibald Prize 2015

Picking the personality for the portrait can be half the knack of winning the Archibald Prize, and this year’s winning portrait by artist Nigel Milsom of Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet is no exception to this unspoken rule.

Nigel Milsom’s portrait of Waterstreet presents a larger-than-life figure that aptly expresses his sitter’s persona. The largest painting of the 47 finalists in this year’s prize proves that size does count, with the dark work holding great impact as it looms over the audience.

Waterstreet, a barrister was the inspiration behind the colourful personality of the TV series Rake, was described by Milsom as “a very complex person.” Speaking of the inspiration for the portrait, commented that he wanted to “depict him as a giant: part-man, part-mythical creature, with hands that appear otherworldly.” The resulting portrait definitely seems to fit the bill.

Sharing a 40-year association that began indirectly in 1975. Milsom was born around the corner from the Waterstreet Hotel in Albury, which was owned by Charles Waterstreet’s parents. Dealings between the families were initiated by Milsom’s father, who sold fish to the Waterstreets to finance a boat he was building.

However the relationship deepened several years ago, when Charles Waterstreet represented Nigel Milsom as his barrister.

“Charlie restored my faith in the legal system,” Milsom said. “He is a very complex person… he isn’t just a law man. He’s a writer, a social environmentalist and does things in film, photography and theatre too. Despite his busy life, he has managed to dedicate most of his time to the welfare of others.”

The Archibald Prize is judged by the Art Gallery of New South Wales board of trustees. President Guido Belgiorno-Nettis congratulated Nigel Milsom on winning the 2015 Archibald Prize.

“It’s a magnificent painting. It’s powerful; it’s commanding and we’re proud to have it in this year’s exhibition.”

This year’s runner up for the Archibald Prize is Sydney artist Mitch Cairns for his portrait of renowned artist Peter Powditch.

The winner of the Sulman Prize is Sydney artist Jason Phu for his work I was at yum cha when in rolled the three severed heads of Buddha: Fear, Malice and Death.

On the opposite end of the size spectrum as the smallest work, Melbourne artist Natasha Bieniek was awarded the Wynne Prize, for her intricate and highly detailed painting Flood Creek approaching summer 1.

The third time Newcastle artist Milsom has been an Archibald Prize finalist, congratulations to Milsom who was awarded $100,000 as the 2015 winner. Almost doubling his chances, he was also a subject this year – as the sitter for his fellow artist Matthew Kenmann.

EXHIBITION
The Archibald Prize
Until 27 September
Art Gallery of NSW

Courtesy the artists and the Art Gallery of NSW