Margaret Olley Portrait Wins Archibald Prize

Ben Quilty’s portrait of Australian painter Margaret Olley has taken out the $50, 000 Archibald Prize, beating out 798 entries in its 90th year.

Quilty, who counts Olley as a “maternal figure” and “a very close friend,” was awarded the prize earlier today, with much debate amongst the art gallery’s 11 trustees as to who should be awarded the sought-after honour.

This isn’t the first time Olley has been the subject of an Archibald winner, the last being in 1948 by William Dobell. This is the sixth time Quilty has made it as a finalist in the portraiture division.

Quilty has said of his admiration of the artist:

“She’s such an inspiration. [Olley] was a feminist ahead of her time. She’s vigorously passionate about social and political issues, as well as art, and is enormously compassionate. Margaret has such an infectious attitude to both life and death.”

Richard Goodwin’s sculpture of a vertical motorcycle titled ‘Co-isolated slave’ was awarded the Wynne Prize ($25,000) and Peter Smeeth’s painting of ‘The artist’s fate’ took out the Sulman Prize ($20,000).

All three winners will be on display at the Art Gallery of NSW from tomorrow until June 26. The Archibald exhibition will then tour regional NSW and Victoria.