All eyes on the Archibald Prize

Tony Costa won the 2019 Archibald Prize for his portrait of Lindy Lee.

By Jed Lanyon

Over 55,000 people came to the Yarra Valley and through the TarraWarra Museum of Art gallery doors to witness the Archibald Prize exhibition, making it the highest attended exhibition in the museum’s 16-year history.

For the first time since 2012, the Archibald Prize returned the TarraWarra Museum of Art as the museum hosted the portraits of 54 of Australia’s leading and emerging artists, including Tony Costa’s Archibald Prize winning portrait of Lindy Lee.

The exhibition created a buzz across the valley and the tourism impact of the record visitation is estimated to have boosted the Yarra Ranges economy by more than $5.4M

The museum states that the exhibition attracted an estimated 44,780 day trippers, 9,978 visitors who overnighted In the Yarra Valley, and 277 guests while the exhibition was open from 14 September to 5 November.

TarraWarra Museum of Art director Victoria Lynn said the appeal of the Archibald Prize, the wide diversity of portrait subjects, and the museum’s magnificent setting made the exhibition particularly attractive.

Prior to the exhibition, she told the Mail that she hoped the exhibition would be viewed by 50,000 visitors, a goal that was easily surpassed by the museum.

“We are delighted that so many of TarraWarra Museum of Art’s traditional audiences and new-comers visited us to see the Archibald Prize. The exhibition’s success is a testimony to the ongoing appeal of viewing art in a premier Australian museum located in the beautiful Yarra Valley,” Ms Lynn said.

Artist Tony Costa spoke to the Mail about his award winning portrait in September.

He revealed that he hasn’t used a paint brush for over 30 years and that his portrait of Lindy Lee was created with his hands.

“I’m essentially a very impatient person, so I paint with my hands… I wear surgical gloves; they are very thin and at the end of a painting session there might be 100 gloves laying around the studio floor.”

“I found that by putting an image down quickly with my hand, had a greater visual impact than sitting there with my brush and trying to paint it.”


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