about the prize

In this section:   background   |   judging   |   media reviews

Background


Winner 1997
"I'll Eat You In The End" by Xavier Ghazi (Rupert Murdoch)

The Bald Archy Prize was founded in 1994 in a small village outside Gundagai, by experienced arts administrator and successful theatre director, Peter Batey OAM, as part of an arts festival named the Coolac Festival of Fun, to avoid discrimination by those afraid of a cultural image.

“the exhibition that brings people into galleries they’ve never been in before...”
Canberra Times

Classical music, jazz, spoken word, and comedy, performed by some of Australia’s most-admired professionals were all included in the program, the Visual Art context being supplied by the Bald Archys, a spoof of the more austere and revered Archibald Prize.

Although created as something of a joke, the Bald Archy Prize has become an icon on the Australian art calendar (albeit an eccentric one), particularly because of the absurdist nature of the event, calling for irreverent comic and satirical images of well-known Australians.

Not long after he was appointed Director of the National Gallery of Australia, Ron Radford commented of the country’s most noted portrait competition, “Let’s not kid ourselves the Archibald is about art. The Archibald isn’t (the AGNSW’s) most important exhibition, just their most important circus.”

For 17 years, Peter Batey has been making the same point with the Bald Archy, but perhaps more vividly. “The nation is awash with art competitions and prizes,” he says. “So much so that it’s got to the stage where if you haven’t won one, even at the local country show, you are regarded as being at the bottom of the heap”(read Peter Batey bio) here.

 

Judging


Maude
Art critic and official judge of the Bald Archy Prize

 

 

The absurdity of judging art is highlighted even more by the fact that the Bald Archy Prize winner is chosen by a sulphur-crested cockatoo named Maude,
who claims she is as qualified as any other judge in the land .... Who dares challenge that?

 

Media reviews

View media coverage:


2013 Riverina Weekender (Daily Advertiser)

Riverina Weekender (Daily Advertiser) 2012

Canberra Times

“Brilliant visual satire comes to Royal South Australian Society of Arts Gallery”
Adelaide Advertiser
“Guaranteed entertainment for all...”
The Land Newspaper
“Australia's premier satirical art prize”
The Taipei Times
“Tapping into the larrikin side of the Australian sense of humour for the last 17 years...”
The Press, Christchurch