The winner of the 2022 Archibald is Blak Douglas for his portrait of artist Karla Dickens


Congratulations to Blak Douglas who has won the 2022 Archibald for his exquisite, urgent portrait of Karla Dickens, titled Moby Dickens.

Winning a $100,000 prize from a pool of 52 finalists and over 800 entries, Douglas’s winning entry captures artist Karla Dickens standing with two buckets in the midst of the Lismore Floods.

With his win Douglas becomes the second Aboriginal artist to win the Archibald Prize, after artist Vincent Namatjira won in 2020, and Moby Dickens is the first time a portrait of an Aboriginal woman has won the prize. Douglas thanked his family, and particularly the matriarchs in his family, in his speech.

As the work statement explains, Douglas’s “portrait of Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens, who lives on Bundjalung Country in Lismore, is a metaphor for the disastrous floods that hit northern NSW in early 2022. Its title references the 1851 novel Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Douglas says, ‘Karla is Moby – a strong, prized figure pursued by foreign combatants.’”

The Archibald winner was judged by a board of trustees, including two artists Tony Albert and Caroline Rothwell.

Meanwhile Nicholas Harding has won the Wynne Prize for his painting Eora. The awarded recognises excellence in landscape painting or figurative sculpture, and Harding’s winning work is an immersive work, inspired by the Sydney landscape. Harding is a nine times finalist in the Wynne and previously won the Archibald.

He says of the work, “‘Eora’ was the word used by Aboriginal people of Sydney to describe where they came from when asked by the British invaders what the place of first settlement was called. My favoured pandanus trees are harbingers for the cabbage palms, while the ferns are influenced by our courtyard ferns that were shadowed by a neighbour’s eucalypt but perished when exposed to the sun’s heat after the tree was removed. Leafless fern trunks haunt Eora as warnings for the consequences of land-clearing.”

And duo Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro have won the Sulman Prize for Raiko and Shuten-dōji. It’s the first time the award has been given to a collaborative duo. The artists say of the work, “This is our rendering of the fight between the warrior Raiko and the demon Shuten-dōji. The warrior fools the demon through tricking him with his many helmets. The Japanese folk design is usually painted on kites, but we have painted this scene on the fuselage of a Vietnam War–era helicopter.”

The winners and finalists in all three prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from Saturday 14 May to Sunday 28 August 2022. The Archibald Prize finalist works will then tour to Victoria and regional New South Wales until July 2023.

Archibald Prize 2022
Art Gallery of New South Wales
14 May—28 August

News Words by Tiarney Miekus