Art Gallery of NSW’s Archibald Prize 2019 ends this week!
If you haven’t made time yet – do.
If you have – do it again.
The gift that keeps giving; you’ll see portraits you missed first time without even realising and pick up details in pieces you loved that you somehow completely skipped past.
*So Much More* is a passion project I’ve been quietly brewing, featuring behind the scenes interviews with artists and experts in their respective fields, inspired by the Ask Her More red carpet movement of 2016.
For this piece I sat down with the artist Katherine Edney to walk through her journey to becoming an Archibald 2019 finalist with this stunning painting of herself, pregnant with now 1 year old Ariel – a living breathing work of art, embodying this self portrait’s timeline from inception to birth and beyond.
I’m fascinated by the nuts and bolts of crafts I admire but don’t fully understand so our conversation covered everything from the mechanics of the art world – in layman’s terms for this novice 🙋🏽♀️- to Ariel’s premature arrival and the comical//astronomical impact this inevitably had on an artist prepping for a game changing gallery show 🤯
So how does it work I asked, speaking as a writer myself in the era of Instagram – where trying to monetise what we do is… FUN!!
For Katherine, and other artists like her, reputable prizes like The Archibald are the way forward – a travelling circuit populated by familiar faces that make up the community she belongs to.
And of course with artistic community comes impostor syndrome 🔪
“How established do you feel now?”
A surprise to me because in my eyes she’s no longer simply Katherine Edney – evolved now to the higher realm of Archibald Finalist, like Oscar Winner or my personal Mecca, Poet Laureate.
But she delves a little deeper, with a familiar story of a recent piece she poured heART and soul into, only to come up against the proverbial brick wall (no YOU’RE punny*) and the ensuing self doubt and disappointment that will inevitably burst the bubble of a fragile undertaking like that.
And it is fragile.
The alternative being the intimate relationship between artist and gallery that Katherine broke down for me, with nuggets like the standard 40% commission fee required to be spotlighted centre stage in front of the calibre of buyers that justify this whopper amount of what should really be her money honey 🍯 !!
Leading me to my next favourite subject: how (tf) does she price herself when the numbers on the tag should reflect time and energy and blood and sweat and tears – as well as securing the bag?
The answer, as I have long suspected, is to get a good mentor and hey get this: in the art world the physical size of each work of art is also a factor!!
Even though as Katherine points out the smaller pieces are typically more detailed and should really be the ones she charges more for.
Next up: we’re Mums as well as artists so we of course talk mental health & sanity – which for Katherine, and by coincidence me too – means walking daily and adhering to a new found love for the rhythm and routine she’s settled into “I never knew I needed it until I had Ariel” – and with a toddler in tow and several hours per day of painting to get through she trumps me hands down with her 3.30pm lunches when it comes to defining her own timezone!!
We’re also women as well as workaholics 🤪 so it’s inevitable we touch on politics.
Are women equally represented?
Are Indigenous artists?
In light (or shade 🤗*) of the current climate, and the recent passing of another powerhouse who also has my deepest respect, I give you this timeless Toni Morrison quote ☕️:
“The best art is political and you ought to be able to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time.”
A few weeks later I noted by complete fluke that we share a much loved mutual friend, whose facebook post I hijacked so that, long story short, this sunny little interview could happen.
The Archibald Prize runs until Sunday 8 September at AGNSW.