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George Calombaris Portrait Wins Archibald 'Packing Room' Prize

A total of 51 finalists for the prestigious art prize have been announced.
Betina Fauvel-Ogden's Archibald Prize entry, 'George Calombaris, masterchef'.
Betina Fauvel-Ogden's Archibald Prize entry, 'George Calombaris, masterchef'.

First-time Archibald Prize entrant Betina Fauvel-Ogden has won the prestigious Packing Room Prize with her portrait of renowned chef, restaurateur and 'MasterChef Australia' judge, George Calombaris.

The oil on linen portrait of the celebrity chef was among 51 Archibald finalists, selected from 830 entries, which were also announced on Thursday morning.

First awarded in 1921, The Archibald is an annual exhibition (shown in conjunction with The Wynne and Sulman Prizes) featuring portrait paintings of 'preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics'.

Often described as the artistic 'who's who' of Australian culture, it's little wonder the exhibition is one of Australia's favourites, though some have questioned whether the quality of the works are deserving of the public's continuing adoration. (To this, we say 'bah, humbug'. The Archibald Prize is awesome.)

The Packing Room Prize is considered as a type of precursor to the main event, and is given to the best entry as judged by the gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries. (Though the head of the Art Gallery of New South Wales packing room, Steve Peters, ultimately gets the final say with 51 percent of the vote.)

Last year's winner of The Packing Room Prize (as well as People's Choice) was this portrait of Michael Caton by Bruno Jean Grasswill.
Last year's winner of The Packing Room Prize (as well as People's Choice) was this portrait of Michael Caton by Bruno Jean Grasswill.

"I was always interested in George Calombaris as a subject as I felt there was an intensity to his character," Fauvel-Ogden said after winning the $1500 cash prize.

"After eight months pursuing him, George gave up his valuable time to allow me three sittings. I wanted to paint him in his chef's white jacket and black apron. In choosing the pose, George felt most comfortable with his hands on his hips. I kept the lighting simple and focused on capturing the determination in his eyes.

"I had always envisaged a vibrant yellow background for the portrait. When George gave me his cookbook Greek with its bold yellow cover, as a gift at the first sitting, that clinched it."

"It is a very strong portrait. George Calombaris is looking directly at you. He means business," Peters added. "I'm hoping George will cook me a burger next time I am in Melbourne." (Hint, hint, George).

With the announcement of the Archibald finalists and Fauvel-Ogden's win also came the confirmed finalists for the Wynne and Sulman Prizes, as well as the finalists for the Young Archie competition.

Zoe Young's portrait 'Sam Harris' is a 2016 Archibald Prize finalist.
Zoe Young's portrait 'Sam Harris' is a 2016 Archibald Prize finalist.

Portrait subjects featured in the 2016 Archibald include Indigenous Australian model Samantha Harris (above), Wendy Whiteley, Barry Humphries and Ken Done, as well as 11 self-portraits.

The open competition is judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW, and fetches a handsome $100,000 prize.

Check out all 51 finalists in the slide show below.

Abdul Abdullah, 'The Cost'
Gallery of New South Wales
Alan Jones, 'Pat'
Gallery of New South Wales
Belynda Henry, 'Louise Olsen, a beautiful summary'
Gallery of New South Wales
Benjamin Aitken, 'Portrait of mentor (Jon Cattapan and self)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Betina Fauvel-Ogden 'George Colambaris, masterchef'
Gallery of New South Wales
Winner of The Packing Room Prize 2016
Camillo De Luca, 'Polymath'
Gallery of New South Wales
Carla Fletcher, 'Twin souls, Linda Jackson'
Gallery of New South Wales
Chris Bond, 'The restless dead (portrait of the artist)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Chris Browne, 'Krista'
Gallery of New South Wales
Clara Adolphs, 'Terry Serio'
Gallery of New South Wales
Danelle Bergstrom, 'Guy Warren'
Gallery of New South Wales
Daniel Butterworth, 'Annie Smithers'
Gallery of New South Wales
David Fairbairn, 'Large head JL no 3'
Gallery of New South Wales
David Griggs, 'It's a G thang'
Gallery of New South Wales
Dean Brown, 'McLean Edwards'
Gallery of New South Wales
Dean Manning, 'Maximum Lawrence'
Gallery of New South Wales
Guan Wei, 'Plastic surgery'
Gallery of New South Wales
Guy Maestri, 'Shattered (Griggs)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Heidi Yardley, 'Birth/death – portrait of Nell'
Gallery of New South Wales
Imants Tillers, 'Double reality self-portrait 2014–2016'
Gallery of New South Wales
India Mark, 'Day at the gallery with Dane Taylor'
Gallery of New South Wales
Juan Ford, 'Regaining sight (a meditation on Rose Soady)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Kate Beynon, 'Claudia, Spartacus and the robots'
Gallery of New South Wales
Kristy Neilson, 'There's no humour in darkness'
Gallery of New South Wales
Lewis Miller, 'Portrait of Bernie Teague'
Gallery of New South Wales
Louise Hearman, 'Barry'
Gallery of New South Wales
Lucy Culliton, 'Lucy and fans'
Gallery of New South Wales
Marc Etherington, 'King Ken (Ken Done in his studio)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Marcus Wills, 'The ersatz (James Batchelor)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Marie Mansfield, 'Study of Euan Macleod'
Gallery of New South Wales
Marikit Santiago, 'Blacklustre'
Gallery of New South Wales
Mark Horton, 'Troy'
Gallery of New South Wales
Melissa Ritchie, 'Rhys smart mouth'
Gallery of New South Wales
Michael McWilliams, 'The usurpers (self-portrait)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Mirra Whale, 'Philip Nitschke'
Gallery of New South Wales
Monica Rohan, 'Easton Pearson'
Gallery of New South Wales
Natasha Bieniek, 'Wendy Whiteley'
Gallery of New South Wales
Natasha Walsh ,'Self-portrait'
Gallery of New South Wales
Nicholas Harding, 'Peter Weiss AO'
Gallery of New South Wales
Nick Mourtzakis 'Self-portrait: in violet'
Gallery of New South Wales
Nick Stathopoulos, 'Deng'
Gallery of New South Wales
Peter Wegner, 'John Wolseley'
Gallery of New South Wales
Prudence Flint, 'Shower'
Gallery of New South Wales
Rosemary Valadon 'The Scribbler (Luke Sciberras)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Sally Ross, 'Roslyn'
Gallery of New South Wales
Sinead Davies, 'Toni Zeltzer'
Gallery of New South Wales
Tony Albert, 'Tony Albert (after Brownie Downing)'
Gallery of New South Wales
Tsering Hannaford, 'Self portrait with magnolia'
Gallery of New South Wales
William Rhodes, 'Alice'
Gallery of New South Wales
Yvette Coppersmith, 'Rose Burn self-portrait'
Gallery of New South Wales
Zoe Young, 'Sam Harris'
Gallery of New South Wales

The 2016 Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes will be on display at The Gallery of New South Wales from 16 Jul – 9 Oct 2016. You can buy your tickets here.

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