Shades of Grey
by Alan Holroyd
The humpback whale of the Australian art world is Sydney's Archibald Portrait Prize while a minnow in its wake is Australia's most popular comic portrait competition - the Bald Archy Prize.
The Archys are a spoof of the most serious and extremely prestigious Archibald which makes it essential viewing for fine art, politics, sport and society buffs. And hey, the Archys are doing their bit for cultural ecumenism and travels to Melbourne following its Sydney season.
The prize winning work for 2005 is a brilliantly rendered study of Cardinal George Pell and the Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott. ( See the image)
Now, remember back to last year's federal election , a meeting of these two men took place and the content of the get-together incited the political and religious lobbies to fever pitch. So much so, that Melbourne artist Tony Sowersby grabbed this fateful occasion by the horns and produced this magnificent prize-winning painting!
Who knows how many sittings there were, but Somersby convincingly captured the essence of the Cardinal's shepherdly persona and the Minister's uncomfortable and decidedly wooden pose. The pallet of colours used on this canvas embues the Gothic drama of the moment that could easily be a key setting from Blackadder.
Somersby's "The Cardinal with His Abbott" is the standout entry that takes nothing away from other portraits in the show - such as Lleyton Hewitt, Leo Schofield, Nicole Kidman, Frank Sartor, John Howard, Bob Carr and Kylie Minogue to name a few.
A must see!