Dunedin Artist Finalist In Archibald Prize With Portrait Of NZ Photographer Fiona Pardington

Published: Thu 30 May 2024 03:21 PM
Dunedin-based artist Simon Richardson has today been announced as a finalist in Australasia’s prestigious portraiture awards, the Archibald Prize, with a painting of renowned New Zealand photographer Fiona Pardington.Image/Supplied
Generally seen as the most prestigious portrait prize in Australia, the annual Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921. It is administered by the trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and valued at $100,000 (AU).
Richardson is one of just 10 New Zealand artists to be short-listed for the Archibald Awards in its more than 100-year history, while only one Kiwi has ever won an associated prize: Auckland-based Martin Ball, who took out the Packing Room Prize in 2008. Richardson was one of 57 finalists announced today from more than 1000 entries received.
The egg tempera painting features Fiona Pardington (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāti Kahungunu) MNZM, Chevalier Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, reclining on a couch with her dog Minerva. Richardson has also painted Huia on the painting frame, referencing the celebrated artist’s still life photos of the now extinct native New Zealand bird.
“I am extremely honoured to be a finalist for this year’s Archibald Prize,” Richardson says.
“Painting Fiona was a huge privilege in itself, and it is incredible for it to be short-listed for such a coveted prize.
“For the last few years, I’ve been working on portraits of artists living in the South Island. I got in touch with Fiona through a mutual friend and seeing her reclining on her couch with her dog Minerva, I knew that was how I should paint her, surrounded by all her interesting and beloved things.”
Since graduating with a BFA from the Otago Polytechnic School of Art in 1996, Richardson has painted full time. He lives and works in Broad Bay, Dunedin with his wife Gepke and children Mila and Eben. In 2016 his portrait of his daughter was selected for the BP Portrait Award at the National Gallery, London. He has also previously won the Canadian Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant three times, which enabled him to visit European museums, helping to inform his approach to portraiture.
Pardington says as an “extremely private person”, she felt both “excited and overwhelmed” to sit for the portrait.
“Simon’s portrait is therefore unique. My house is my citadel. This is me, with my darling Minerva. I’m honoured and hope everyone can see Simon’s intuitive rapport with his subjects – right now it’s Minerva and her doting owner.
“Simon’s technical excellence and ease, his exquisite sensitivity as he carefully considers and therefore honours each person he paints, this is how he expresses his strength as a master painter. He’s one of us, not above us, but on a life journey with us. He’s the consummate portrait painter.
“Minerva and I did our very best to meet him half way in this very private portrait, at our off-the-grid home up in the Hunter Hills just north of Waimate, Te Waipounamu.”
The winner of the Archibald Prize will be announced on Friday 7 June.
All finalists here:

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