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  • Jun 07, 2024

2024 Archibald Prize Awarded to Laura Jones

LAURA JONES, Tim Winton, 2024, oil on linen, 198 × 152.5 cm. Courtesy Art Gallery of New South Wales.

On June 7, Sydney-based artist Laura Jones was named the winner of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s (AGNSW) prestigious Archibald Prize for the best portrait of someone “distinguished in art, letters, science, or politics.” Awarded AUD 100,000 (USD 67,000), Jones is only the 12th woman to win the prize in its 103-year history. Tim Winton, her portrait of the acclaimed author and conservationist, was unanimously selected by judges out of 1,005 submissions and 57 finalists.

Jones is primarily known for her bold, colorful depictions of floral still lives and the natural world. Her winning work captures Winton in a state of contemplation, with her canvas awash in earthy browns, greens, and purples to evoke the subject's deep connection to the natural world. Jones recalls meeting Winton in 2016 at an environmental advocacy event and being “amazed by the humility of this great novelist.” The artist watched Winton’s “beautiful and terrifying” documentary on the Ningaloo Reef and felt moved by one of his speeches that lamented the arts’ reluctance to challenge climate change inaction. According to the AGNSW, Jones’s conversations with Winton about the historical interplay between printmaking and political activism inspired her to approach his portrait as if creating a monotype, utilizing thin brushstrokes to render a depiction that is “dreamy yet direct.” 

DJAKANU YUNUPINU, Nyalala gurmilili, natural pigments on bark, 263 × 154 cm. Photo by Jenni Carter. Courtesy the artist and Art Gallery New South Wales, Sydney.

NAOMI KANTJURINY, Minyma Mamu Tjuta, 2023, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 197 × 153.5 cm. Photo by Jenni Carter. Courtesy the artist and Art Gallery New South Wales, Sydney.

The AGNSW’s 2024 Wynne Prize, which recognizes landscape paintings or figure sculptures of Australian scenery, and the Sir John Sulman Prize for genre and subject painting or mural project, were also announced on Friday. Yirrkala-based artist Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu was awarded the AUD 50,000 (USD 33,400) Wynne Prize for her natural pigment-on-bark painting Nyalala gurmilili (2024), portraying the miwatj (sunrise side) of the north-easternmost part of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The Sulman Prize was given to Pitjantjatjara painter Naomi Kantjuriny, who received AUD 40,000 (USD 26,700) for her black-and-white painting of mamu in Minyma mamu tjuta (2024), depicting benevolent and malevolent spiritual forces in conflict.  

The Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes are awarded annually by the AGNSW. This year, the institution received a record number 2,371 submissions, including the most entries by First Nations artists for the Archibald and Wynne categories. The AGNSW also stated that 46 percent of this year's finalists were first-timers, a higher figure than in previous years. The “Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2024” exhibition of finalists and winners is scheduled to be held at the AGNSW from June 8 to September 8, 2024. 

Mioie Kwok is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific. 

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