Dhungutti Artist Blak Douglas †Adam Douglas Hill) made history with his Archibald Prize-winning portrait of fellow artist and Wiradjuri wife Karla Dickens† It marks the first time in the Archibald Prize’s 101-year history that a First Nations artist has won for a portrait of a fellow First Nations artist.
Douglas’ painting “Moby Dickens” shows Dickens standing in the floodwaters in Lismore, holding two buckets. If ever there was a painting that captures the environmental devastation of 2022, it is this one.
“I am delighted to be the first New South Wales First Nations artist to win with a portrait of a New South Wales First Nations artist. It’s an important historic victory,” Douglas told the NSW Art Gallery.
“Karla is my favorite female First Nations artist, we’re good friends, we’re birds when it comes to our sentiment in art, and I really admire the way she puts her work together.”
It is only the second time that a First Nations artist has won the Archibald Prize.
Western Arandra artist Vincent Namatjira won the Archibald in 2020. His portrait showed himself and footy legend Adam Goodes†
In an interview with the ABC, Blak Douglas described the damage caused by the flooding in the Northern Rivers area. He said it was “a war zone”.
“So to be able to help some of my dearest, best friends up there, through this victory — not just metaphorically, but financially — that’s a huge plus,” he said.
Dickens was a finalist for the Archibald Prize seven times. He has now won $100,000 in prize money.
If you’d like to take a look at the portrait — and the other finalists — it will be on display at NSW’s Art Gallery from May 14 to August 28.
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Image: Blak Douglas/Art Gallery Of NSW/Getty/Lisa Maree Williams