Archibald Prize 2015 children’s trail

The Archibald Prize, first awarded in 1921, is Australia’s favourite art award and one of its most prestigious. Awarded to the best portrait painting, the Archibald Prize is a who’s who of Australian culture – from politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes to artists.

Click on an image for more information (including an artist statement, medium and dimensions) and to view the work in the Art Gallery of NSW prizes database.

Look, draw and have fun!

Our children’s trails are available online or as free printed booklets at the Gallery. They are designed to engage young children aged 6-12 with selected objects and images in the Gallery and our exhibitions. They present looking and interpreting, drawing and writing activities for children to do in front of the art with extension ideas for activities away from the Gallery.

Many of these suggestions can be adapted for use at home or in the classroom, even if you can't visit or the particular artworks are not on display.

Meet this thoughtful man.

Tony Costa has painted the artist David Fairbairn looking as if he is deep in thought.

What could David be thinking about? Do you think his thoughts are happy or sad?

Notice how the artist has applied the paint thickly using his hands and a palette knife.

Role-play how the artist would have moved his arms to create the textures and marks.

Draw a picture that shows you deep in thought.

At home experiment with thick paint and try applying it using a range of techniques, such as finger painting, with brushes or scraped onto the paper with a piece of cardboard.

Walk over to this collaged portrait.

The artist, Jeremy Kibel, has made a portrait of Dr Dick Quan by using thin washes of paint and black lines painted over torn collaged papers.

Spot how many straight edges you can see. How many different types of paper has Jeremy used?

Describe the expression on Dr Quan’s face. What characteristics do you think Jeremy admires about him?

At home stick overlapping, torn pieces of paper together and draw or paint a face over the top using simple black lines.

Find this unusual portrait.

The artist, Juan Ford, has painted himself twisted and tied by plastic tape with his face hidden by a mask.

Look closely at the tape across his chest. Is it painted or stuck on?

Spot the dripping paint and the small image of a face poking out of the jacket. Do you think that could be what Juan really looks like?

Imagine you are going to disguise yourself. What would you wear to change your appearance? Draw your idea.

At home dress up in different outfits and draw or paint yourself taking on new and different personas.

Visit this colourful place.

The artist, Marc Etherington, has painted another artist, Del Kathryn Barton, sitting on the couch in her art studio.

Observe how Del has been painted in a simple or naïve style. What objects can you see behind Del that tell us she is an artist?

Notice how bright and colourfully patterned her couch is. What do you think the rest of the room might look like? Draw the other end of Del’s studio.

At home draw a picture of someone you know against a background that shows their interests or the job they do.

Spot this tonal portrait.

The artist, Jessica LeClerc, has painted artist David Hart using limited colours to create a tonal portrait. Would it look as effective if she had used more colours?

What unusual things look like they are growing out of his back? What might they tell us about where David lives or is from?

Jessica has also included dragonflies in the painting as a reminder of David’s famous father, artist Pro Hart, who often put dragonflies in his art. Count how many you can see.

If you could choose an animal or insect as a symbol of yourself which one would you choose? Why? Draw your chosen animal.

At home experiment with paint using only a few colours to create a portrait that tells a story about who you are and where you live.

Locate this colourful portrait.

The artist, Jiawei Shen has painted gallery director Judith Neilson with a huge white rabbit sitting on her lap.

Judith’s gallery is called White Rabbit Gallery and it displays Chinese contemporary art. What Chinese things can you see in this painting?

Do you think the rabbit looks happy or is it about to try to leap out of the picture?

Imagine if the rabbit could escape the painting. What adventures would it have? Write or draw your idea.

At home find out more about White Rabbit Gallery and the types of exhibitions and art it displays.

Meet the fashion designer Jenny Kee.

Jenny is one of Australia’s most successful fashion designers and is known for her colourful knitwear and patterned clothing.

The artist, Carla Fletcher, has emphasised Jenny’s love of colour and pattern in this portrait which is made on paper and collaged onto the canvas background.

Notice how Jenny’s face and hands are painted differently so her clothing and vivid red glasses stand out.

Imagine if Jenny was painted against a more decorative background. What would it look like?

At home make a portrait of someone wearing bright, patterned clothing. What type of background will you place behind them so they stand out or blend in?

Look up at this large portrait.

The artist, Nigel Milsom, has painted barrister Charles Waterstreet wearing his black work gown emerging from the dark background so we focus on his hands and face.

How does the lack of colour add to the mood of this painting?

Notice how long his fingers are. What does he remind you of?

Hands can be quite tricky to draw. Practise drawing your hands.

At home draw or paint your hands in different positions and experiment with elongating the fingers to emphasise their shape.

Find this small portrait.

The artist, Tsering Hannaford, has painted herself as if she is a small sculpture, or bust, on a pedestal.

Notice the strong shadow down the side of her face which makes her look even more three-dimensional, like a sculpture.

Spot how the edge of her neck appears as if it is carved from marble or plaster.

Focus on Tsering’s face. How do you think she feels?

Draw yourself as if you are a sculpture on a pedestal. What expression will you have?

At home use plasticine or modelling clay to make a bust or sculpture of someone and make a pedestal for it to go on.

Spot this portrait.

The artist, Kristin Tennyson, has painted federal MP Bob Katter using quick brush marks and tones of black and white. She has used red squiggly lines for his tie so it stands out.

Notice how Kristin has used thin washes of paint and quick lines, but still manages to capture the detail of Bob’s face.

Bob is known for his passionate views about the Australian cattle industry so Kristin has painted him as if he is a cowboy on a poster from an old Western movie.

Design a poster for a movie that includes you as the main character.

At home experiment with thin washes of paint and use your fingers or brushes to quickly sketch and paint a face.