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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Suzanne Archer

Australia, England

17 Dec 1945 -


'Derangement' is a self-portrait of the artist in her studio. It reflects Archer's developing awareness of her own mortality. In 2002 Archer was searching for a new subject when she was given the opportunity to visit and draw in the Dissection Laboratory of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. She returned there periodically until 2005, to make observational drawings of horse dissection in order to inform her studio work. The 'Disturbance series', to which this drawing belongs, developed later, and included skulls and bones collected near her bush studio and specimens given to her by her friends.

'I have used as my subject some of the inanimate animals that hang, stand on shelves or sit in cabinets in my studio. They are either the real specimens or the sculptural interpretations of them which are often used as props for my work or in the case of the sculptures also exhibited in their own right. The most recent works have incorporated the uneasy element of my self-portrait. I am interested in the odd juxtaposition of my own cut-off head with the animal images, in the emotional reaction that it engenders in the viewer.' (Suzanne Archer, 2010).

With her fascination for animal carcasses and skeletons, Archer joins a long tradition of artists – from Rembrandt and Chardin to the Dutch and Flemish painters of still lifes, and, more recently, Soutine, Bacon and Damien Hirst – who have striven for equivalent materiality of expression through paint, sculpture or graphic media.

This work won the Dobell Prize for Drawing in 2010 and was acquired by the Gallery in 2010.


Place where the work was made

Wedderburn Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

ink, charcoal, pastel on two sheets of white paper


173.3 x 207.5 cm sheet; overall; 187.0 x 218.0 x 6.1 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, white pastel "ARCHER '10".


Gift of the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation 2011


Not on display

Accession number


Dobell Prize for Drawing

Winner - 2010

Artist information

Suzanne Archer

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 11 publications


Christopher Allen., The Australian, 'To express what only drawing will allow', Canberra, 14 Dec 2010, (colour illus.). not paginated

Joe Eisenberg, Suzanne Archer: afterlife, 'Suzanne Archer: afterlife', pg. 4-30, Maitland, 2010. Note: background to this work.

Adam Fulton, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Dark drawing proves dead lucky in Dobell prize', pg. 19, Sydney, 06 Nov 2010-07 Nov 2010, 19.

Sioux Garside, Suzanne Archer: the alchemy of the studio, 'Self: the alchemy of the studio', pg. 2-13, North Ryde, 2016, 2, 3 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 years of the Dobell Prize for Drawing, ‘Introduction’, pg. 6-14, Sydney, 2012, 8, 54, 55 (colour illus.), 61.

Steve Meacham, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'What makes a drawing? It's often a fine line', pg. 13, Sydney, 25 Nov 2011, 13 (colour illus.). Drawing featured in photo with the artist and photo with exhibition viewers.

Frances Richens (Editor),, 'Catchy news. Suzanne Archer won the 2010 Dobell Prize for Drawing', Australia, 05 Nov 2010, (colour illus.). viewed 15.11.2010,

Hazel Santos (Editor), Lifestyle Asia Magazine, ‘Dobell Prize for Drawing 2010’, Philippines, Nov 2011, (colour illus.). author and page number unknown

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Dobell Prize', pg. 9, Sydney, Feb 2011, 9 (colour illus.). Artist photographed standing in front of drawing.

Ashleigh Wilson, The Weekend Australian, 'Still life with death draws prize', pg. 3, Canberra, 06 Nov 2010-07 Nov 2010, 3 (colour illus.)., ‘Dramatic self-portrait wins Dobell Prize’, 05 Nov 2010, (colour illus.). viewed 05.11.2010,