I can't recall how many Archibalds, Wynnes and Sulmans I have entered, but it's a fair few. I do know how many times I have scored a short listing: none. So I have walked the walk any times.
The staff are lovely, non-judgmental. They find your painting, and offer to carry it to your car if it's a biggie.
No one looks at the work. It's the elephant in the room. It doesn't exist. It's a frame of wood with a canvas covering.
Your work is not good enough. It's a fail. You have wasted your $50 and a bunch of time in delivering and picking up. So why look at it.
When delivering to the prizes, at the beginning, one feels hopeful. It's a happy time, as at least you have something to enter that is not still wet – main criterion. But no one looks at it then either. You lean it against the wall, face hidden. Then it is numbered and carried off.
I had hope, fingers crossed, that this year when they selected a nobody, and they always do, my entry would be the one.
After all, it's a good piece. It's well painted, fits the criteria, and everyone likes it on Instagram.
But the phone remains silent. Time passes. If you are on the outside (ie: you don't know any winners) you don't know when they will call. Your hope dwindles over the weeks, and eventually you face the fact: "babong"– another fail.
The winners are announced online. I used to rush to read the list, thinking it was a surprise for everyone! (not)
But it's fascinating to see who is chosen. Often the same artists from the year before, and of course, lots of well knowns. And some I've never heard of. And they publish the images. Always interesting, especially when seeing what the judges liked this year.
On this note, I've noticed that drips are now out of fashion.
Realism and traditional painting have always been out of fashion.
But then, what do they like?? The rules of the competition say:
Archibald: Best Portrait
Sulman: Best Genre painting or Best Mural
Wynne: Best Landscape Painting or Best Figure Sculpture
Funny word: best. Does it mean technically clever, favourite, preferred, exciting, new, different? Who knows. The Archibald has been compared to the Melbourne Cup. Yes, in my opinion, it's just as hard to pick a winner.
So, time to collect the paintings. Not easy when they are too big for my car! I have to use roof racks, so rain is a consideration. I have three paintings to collect, and two are huge. I won't be able to sneak in and out. I will be seen.
Today was the day. I went through the process: parking, collecting, wrapping, strapping and preparing for the drive home. A bit like going to a dentist, or a covid test. Unpleasant, but has to be done.
A small upside today. Leslie Dimmick from the Tap Gallery in Surry Hills came up and invited me to hang my work at her Real Refuse exhibition, for all of us losers. What a gem. She has been doing this for 25 years. (I think I've shown there before, a while ago. Can't quite remember now. )
So my Sulman entry will get a chance to be seen by the public and my peers. Hooray.