Archibald judging derailed


Judging of this year’s Archibald Portrait Prize has been thrown into chaos just days from this Friday’s scheduled announcement of the 2021 winner.

Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) spokesperson, Carrie Cature, said “an unfortunate misunderstanding” had derailed the judging of shortlisted entries, forcing organisers of the prestigious annual national art prize to hastily restart the process.

Ms Cature said in line with past practice members of the judging panel were each ushered alone into a special gallery at the AGNSW where the shortlisted finalists had been hung.

“Nobody is allowed to accompany any of the judges and we give them no details of the artist behind each work, although some judges can work out who is responsible for a particular portrait if they are familiar with the artist’s style,” she said.

“Each judge then submits a sealed envelope containing their written notes on their choice for the winning portrait which is not opened until all judges have had a chance to view all shortlisted entries.

“Unfortunately this year we realised at the end of judging that packing room staff had left an empty frame propped up against one wall of the judging gallery. (main picture)

“This was chosen overwhelmingly as the 2021 winner by the vast majority of the judging panel.

“Most thought it was the most outstanding of all the shortlisted entries with some judges calling it a bold and ground-breaking statement by an innovative newcomer to the Australian portraiture scene.

“I must say they were not happy when we told them about the mix-up and most of them said they were happy for the empty frame to take out the 2021 prize.

“But we insisted they all return to the gallery this week to do the judging all over again,” Ms Cature said.