TWO award-winning Northern Rivers artists are in the list of finalists to win the Archibald Prize 2020.
Byron Shire artist Craig Ruddy was selected for Dark Emu – portrait of Bruce Pascoe.
This is Craig Ruddy’s fifth time as a finalist, including winning the Archibald Prize and People’s Choice in 2004 with Two Worlds , a portrait of actor David Gulpilil.
He was also awarded People’s Choice again in 2010 for a portrait of Warwick Thornton.
Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man known for his award-winning book Dark Emu.
“I met with Bruce just after the devastating bushfires swept through East Gippsland, which took the life of his close neighbour and good friend,” Mr Ruddy said.
“The destruction also instigated the unwarranted removal of sacred mother trees by forest authorities, which Bruce and a small team had been fighting for years to protect.
“For someone who had suffered such loss, his openness and vulnerability were humbling. But it was his courage and resilience in seeking truth and reconciliation that I wanted to represent.”
Mr Ruddy said Pascoe’s writing played a very important role in shaping a more accurate historical acceptance of Aboriginal sovereignty.
“He examines sophisticated Aboriginal agriculture practices that cultivated the pristine abundance witnessed by colonial settlers,” he said.
Lennox Head artist Angus Mcdonald also made the cut of the prestigious prize with a portrait of former refugee Behrouz Boochiani.
This is the sixth time Mr Macdonald has been listed as a finalist.
Since 1995, he’s held more than 30 solo exhibitions across Australia and internationally.
Mr Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, poet, filmmaker and journalist who was held by the Federal Government for over six years as a refugee on Manus Island, Mr McDonald said.
“We first made contact in 2018, while I was creating a documentary about Manus,” he said.
“I’ve depicted Boochani directly engaging the viewer as a strong, confident and peaceful man who survived a brutal ordeal and is now free.
“Boochani doesn’t view himself as a victim.”
“Through his work, he tirelessly struggled for years against the system that tried to humiliate him. In my view, it was he who humiliated them.
New Zealand granted Boochani refugee status in July 2020.
In 2019, Mr McDonald made his first stand-alone film, directing and producing a Documentary short about refugees & asylum seekers on Manus Island, titled Manus.
The film won Best Documentary at the 2019 St. Kilda Film Festival. Manus also qualified for selection at the 2020 Academy Awards in the Documentary short category.
Another finalist was Nick Stathopoulos’ portrait of musician Ngaiire, a Papua New Guinea-born Australian-based R&B and future soul singer-songwriter who lived in Lismore, with her mother and stepfather where she attended Kadina High School until 2003.
The exhibition opens next Saturday September 26 at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, but you can view the finalist works for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes on the gallery’s website.
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