For the past three years, I’ve written about the gender and race dynamics of the chosen portraits, painted by children up to the age of 18 for the The Young Archibald Prize (the “Young Archie”). Most of the subjects are women, especially mothers. Few artists and subjects are people of colour. This year, while mothers, grandmothers and sisters feature, described for their caring qualities, I was delighted to see a handful of works by and about Asian Australians. Remarkably, two of these paintings, one by a nine year old and another by a 16 year old, explicitly depicted themes of death in terms of acceptance and wonder. Truly wonderful.
A quick update: last year, the Young Archie portraits were mostly focused on mothers. This year there was more diversity in subjects (siblings, cousins, friends) and in cultures!
The Young Archie Prize is a prestigious national award for portraits by Australian children and other youth. Most of the sitters are mothers, chosen because “she cares for me;” they are visually praised for their patience and generally depicted as smiling and exceptional figures in the eyes of their children (“wonderful”). Sisters are the next most common sitters, and generally chosen because they are creative, inspiring and fun. One young male artist describes his sister/subject as a protective figure although they are only a couple of years apart. Third most common are brothers, with similar sibling traits of energetic inspiration. Other children painted grandmothers (one was described as “sad” and rendered enigmatic, missing her birthplace of India). A couple of artists painted girls who are friends.
Few children painted men. A couple of artists painted their uncles (one is a lawyer), one painted their grandfather, but no one painted their fathers. Continue reading Young Archie Prize 2015