We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

Winner: Packing Room Prize 2023

Andrea Huelin Clown jewels

oil on board

120.2 x 120.1 cm

The subject of Andrea Huelin’s first Archibald painting is Cal Wilson, an Aotearoa New Zealand–born, Melbourne-based stand-up comedian, who died in October 2023. Wilson was well known for her appearances on TV shows such as Spicks and specks and Have you been paying attention?.

‘Cal’s Instagram page revealed the brilliant headpieces that she made from plastic toys and shiny ornaments during the long Melbourne lockdowns [in 2020–21 due to COVID-19]. Posing in them on her makeshift home stage, she looked so proud of herself that it made me laugh out loud. I posted a congratulatory comment. Cal wrote back and admired my paintings, so I asked if she’d sit for a portrait,’ says Huelin.

‘Cal brought her creativity and imagination to the sitting, as well as a suitcase full of headpieces and outfits. I wanted to paint a formal portrait, mocking the 19th-century style in which women were painted in their fancy bonnets and frilly blouses, looking either bored and oblivious, or proud as punch of their best duds. As often happens, the painting acquired a life of its own. With Cal’s slightly haughty expression and sparkly headpiece, it suddenly became seriously regal.’

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