Kathrin Longhurst awarded 2021 Archibald Packing Room Prize

Congratulations to German-born, Sydney-based artist Kathrin Longhurst, winner of the 2021 Archibald Packing Room Prize.

Now in its 30th year, the Packing Room Prize is awarded to the best Archibald entry as judged by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries, with 52% of the vote firmly in the grips of head packer and 40-year veteran, Brett Cuthbertson.

Winner Packing Room Prize 2021: Kathrin Longhurst, Kate, oil on linen, 122 x 122cm. © the artist. Photograph: AGNSW, Jenni Carter. Sitter: Kate Ceberano

‘As soon as I saw the work, I thought, “that’s it”‘

– Brett Cuthbertson.

Longhurst’s winning rendition of celebrated Australian singer and songwriter Kate Ceberano is one of 52 finalist works from 938 entries received for the centennial iteration of the Archibald Prize 2021 – a who’s who of Australian culture; from politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes to artists.

‘Kathrin’s work fits my criteria. It’s a portrait of a well-known celebrity, and it looks like her! I met Kate Ceberano many years ago, and Kathrin has really captured her likeness. As soon as I saw the work, I thought, “that’s it”,’ said Cuthbertson.

‘This is also the first time in my tenure as head packer that I have awarded the Packing Room Prize to both a female artist and female sitter. I have been on the lookout, but this is the first time it stood out to me as a clear winner,’ adds Cuthbertson.

Longhurst’s work is the second portrait of Kate Ceberano to win the Packing Room Prize in its 30-year history, following Peter Robertson’s win in 1994. Ceberano was also the subject of an Archibald Prize 2010 finalist portrait by Christine O’Hagan.

After learning she had won the $3,000 Packing Room Prize, Longhurst said she was ecstatic.

‘I first spoke to Kate in early 2020 about collaborating on a portrait. She had seen my work at the home of mutual friends and asked if I was interested in painting her next album cover because she liked the way I portray women as strong and powerful. We attempted to get together several times, but lockdowns and border closures cancelled every trip,’ said Longhurst.

‘The extended lockdown in Melbourne meant it took us some time to meet, and we missed the album cover deadline. But we decided to paint the portrait to create a record of Kate at this important moment in her life and as a legacy for her daughter.’

‘I was quite daunted before painting this portrait, as Kate is such an iconic person, and there are so many incredible images of her already out there. I really wanted to create something new and fresh that captures her personal growth after the devastating consequences of lockdown on the entertainment industry last year. I painted her larger than life, looking fiercer and stronger than ever before.’

The works of finalists in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes are on display at AGNSW from 5 June to 26 September 2021 alongside ‘Archie 100: A Century of the Archibald Prize’, a landmark exhibition exploring the rich history of the Archibald Prize.

The Archibald Prize 2021 exhibition will travel to six venues in regional New South Wales and Victoria from October 2021, offering audiences around the country the opportunity to see all finalist works.