A painting of the actor David Wenham by Tessa MacKay has won the 2019 Archibald Packing Room Prize, the Art Gallery of New South Wales has announced. The Prize, worth $1500, is awarded by gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang entries, with head packer Brett Cuthbertson wielding 52 percent of the vote. A first-time finalist, MacKay’s hyperrealist portrait Through the looking glasssees the actor depicted in a café behind a glass pane. This marks the third time that Wenham has been the subject of an Archibald entry – he was depicted just last year by Jordan Richardson and was the subject of Adam Cullen’s Archibald Prize winner in 2000.
Tessa MacKay’s Through the looking glass, oil on linen, 210 x 330.5 cm © the artist. Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling
MacKay said she was “thrilled” to receive the news of her win. “It took a while for the news to properly land with me. I was still processing the fact that I was a finalist.”
“Portraiture provides an opportunity for me to capture my subject’s personality, drawing the viewer’s empathy and curiosity… David’s thoughtful gaze in the middle of the work...