Art Gallery of New South Wales head packer Brett Cuthbertson and his packing room team have awarded the 2020 Archibald Packing Room Prize to first-time Archibald Prize entrant, Wongutha-Yamatji artist Meyne Wyatt for his self-portrait Meyne (2020).
The West Australian born, Sydney based artist, writer and actor is the first Indigenous artist to win any of the prizes on offer in the Archibald Prize in its 99-year history.
Wyatt’s work is the second self-portrait to win the Packing Room Prize in its 29-year history, following Kerrie Lester’s win in 1998. After 39 years working at the gallery, head packer Brett Cuthbertson, who holds 52% of the vote, has always said that artists who enter a self-portrait have no hope of winning – ‘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,’ said Cuthbertson.
After learning he had won the 2020 Packing Room Prize, Wyatt said he is still in a state of shock.
‘Being a finalist for the Archibald Prize was a pipe dream, let alone being awarded the Packing Room Prize. I am absolutely ecstatic and truly humbled by this wonderful honour.
‘I want to thank the Art Gallery of New South Wales, their staff, Brett Cuthbertson and the Packing Room team. Most of all, I want to thank my Mum, who encouraged me to enter the Archibald Prize in the first place and gave me the courage to be so bold. In a way, that is the essence of the painting and what it reflects – to be bold,’ said Wyatt.
Wyatt’s mother Susan Wyatt is also an artist and was a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2003 for her portrait of writer Doris Pilkington (Nugi Garimarra).
Finalists for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes were also announced today, as were the finalists for the Young Archie competition. All works will be on display at AGNSW from 26 September 2020 to 10 January 2021.