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, including hours

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

Neil Tomkins, Digby Webster

Ernest brothers
acrylic on canvas
61 x 102 cm; 63.5 x 104.5 cm framed
Further information

Neil Tomkins and Digby Webster were both born in Sydney in 1987. Tomkins says: ‘Digby and I share the same middle name, Ernest, and as we were painting each other for this prize it seemed like a good title. It gives a little more background to our friendship and, although it’s a coincidence, we have a lot of similarities.’

Webster is a self-taught artist, whereas Tomkins studied at Wollongong University and Sydney College of the Arts. The pair first met in 2017 and they have since worked on a range of collaborative projects together. ‘Collaborating has always been a strong basis of our creative connection and has brought a lot of joy in our friendship,’ says Tomkins

They worked separately on their portraits for this year’s Archibald Prize but as the paintings came together it became clear that they should be hung as one work. ‘The way the colours play with each other, although not specifically planned, was so powerful we couldn’t separate them,’ says Tomkins.

‘Digby produced his work of me in one sitting, whereas I did many sketches. I’m predominantly a landscape painter so the process of painting a portrait was a little less natural to me than to Digby.’

Listen to label text
Watch Auslan video