Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information

Help us improve our prizes database. Contact us if you have more information.

Del Kathryn Barton

Self-portrait with studio wife
acrylic on linen
203 x 183 cm
Further information

Del Kathryn Barton has won the Archibald Prize twice – in 2008 with a self-portrait with her two children, and in 2013 with a portrait of Hugo Weaving. This is her fifth time as a finalist.

Here, her ‘studio wife’ is her three-year-old French bulldog Cherry-Bomb.

‘About half-way through my beloved mother’s two-year battle with terminal cancer I felt an urgent need to embark on a major self-portrait for the first time in nine years. The heart of my universe was changing irrevocably,’ says the Sydney-based artist.

‘With my fierce little Cherry-Bomb-studio-wife keeping a look-out on my shoulder, I was taken aback when finishing the work by how child-like I look. Little-Del-the-daughter is very present.

‘I completed the painting four months after Mum’s death. My hands open in a state of uncertainty and loss. A single finger touches a giant leaf. This leaf, vibrating with the life energy of the universe, is my departed mother,’ says Barton.

‘Cherry-Bomb is witness to and defender of my creative life. I remain forever grateful for her play-like-it’s-the-end-of-the-world presence in my life, especially at a time of indescribable loss. Her deep eye contact is one of the most healing elements in my journey with grief.’

Listen to label text
Watch Auslan video