THE 2020 Archibald Packing Room Prize has gone to first-time Archibald Prize entrant, Wongutha-Yamatji artist and actor, Meyne Wyatt, for his self-portrait, “Meyne”.
Wyatt is the first Indigenous artist to win any of the prizes in the Archibald Prize in its 99-year history, and his painting was selected as one of 55 finalist works from a record number of 1068 entries received for the Archibald Prize.
The Packing Room Prize, a cash prize of $1500 for the artist, is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries.
After 39 years working at the Gallery, head packer Brett Cuthbertson holds 52 per cent of the vote for the Packing Room Prize, and said, “I have been known to say that artists who enter a self-portrait have no hope of winning the Packing Room Prize, but in this case I made an exception to my rule as Meyne is both an artist and celebrity who is all over Australian television.”
Cuthbertson said that when Wyatt came into the gallery to deliver his entry, he told him he hadn’t painted in some time and that the work was just a Covid project.
His winning work is only the second self-portrait to win the Packing Room Prize in its 29-year history, following Kerrie Lester’s win in 1998.
Wyatt declared himself “still in a state of shock” and praised his mum, Susan Wyatt, herself an artist and a finalist in the 2003 Archibald for her portrait of writer Doris Pilkington (Nugi Garimarra).
A familiar face from tours to the Canberra Theatre, Wyatt made headlines in June when he performed a powerful four-minute-speech from his play “City Of Gold” on ABC’s Q&A.
Finalists for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes were announced today, as were the finalists for the Young Archie competition.
Finalists in all prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from September 26 to January 10.