Arts / Gauging the temperature of the nation: The Bald Archies

CANBERRANS wanting to gauge the political temperature of the nation could do worse than head to the Bald Archy exhibition when it opens tomorrow, February 10, at Watson Arts Centre.

Stefan Elbourne, “Pauline Rising”

For while the magnificent Malcolm Turnbull of 2016 seems to have faded, the satirical art show has seen a return of one of its former superstars – Pauline Hanson, depicted in one painting as the Phoenix Rising.

“Citynews” rushed to Watson for the annual unpacking of entries from all around Australia and had, at last count, spotted nine Paulines, including one by Canberra artist and Bald Archy veteran, Val Johnson, “Rod you are not a team player”.

Mark Tippett, “Follow the Yellow Scarf Road or The Wizard of Taz”

Hanson appears in Mark Tippett’s comment on the crossbenches, “Follow the yellow scarf road or The Wizard of Taz”, but only as The Cowardly Lion, while an Archy regular, Senator Jacqui Lambie, is shown as Dorothy and Senator Derryn Hinch, unusually tiny, as Toto.

Sharyn Jones, “Maude: the ultimate judge”

Founder of the Bald Archy, Peter Batey, was on hand to assure us that Maude, the sulphur-crested cockatoo from Coolac who judges the awards each year, was back in her coop and fully compos mentis after a period of vagrancy last year. She appears resplendent in Sharyn Jones’ portrait “Maude: the ultimate judge”. What a relief. Batey has always asserted her judgement was at least as good as any of the critics who assess entries in the annual Archibald Prize which the “Archies” traditionally lampoon.

Judi Nadin, “When there’s a lull, the Silver Bodgie does scull”

Talking of the Archibald, Batey told “Citynews” that after touring beyond the ACT to places as far afield as Gundagai, Corowa, Geelong, Brisbane, Deniliquin, Coffs Harbour, Temora and Swanpool, the exhibition would come home to roost in Sydney during July just before the big portrait show opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Strangely, as we have reported before the relationship between the two exhibitions is exceedingly cordial.

If heavy duty caricature combined superb artistic skills is what you want then Caricaturist of the Year Judi Nadin’s portrayal of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is worth a look. It’s our tip.

The 24rd Bald Archy prize exhibition, at Watson Arts Centre, Aspinall Street, Watson, Friday, February 10 to March 14, 10am to 4pm daily, entry $8/$6.


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