HOW do you get an Archibald winner to come to the Clarence? You just email and ask apparently.
That's all it took to secure the presence of one of Australia's best-known artists, Wendy Sharpe, for the next group exhibition opening at the Grafton Regional Gallery.
"It's very exciting. We just asked her and were pleasantly surprised when she said 'yes' to our request," gallery director Jude McBean said.
Wendy has been a supporter of the gallery for many years, supplying one-off works for their biennenial Postcard fundraiser and also a finalist in the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) over the past decade.
"We acquired a work of Wendy's from the last JADA (2014) which is currently on tour. We have had a good relationship with her for a while now so it will be good to have her here in the Clarence Valley."
Ms McBean said there would be a focus on female artists at the gallery in the first half of this year.
"We also have Rona Green and Bronwyn Bancroft coming here for openings over the next few months," she said.
Wendy will be travelling up from Sydney to open the exhibition as special guest speaker on Friday, February 12, and says she is "delighted" to come up to Grafton.
"I have been to the gallery many years ago. I'm always happy to visit regional galleries. Grafton is particularly special - home of the JADA drawing prize. It is great to have one of my drawings as part of the collection."
Wendy will open the collection exhibition La Femina, in which her work features, and afterwards present an intimate reflection on her practice in the main gallery.
When asked whether she believed being part of an exhibition solely focussing on female artists was important, she said sadly it was.
"Although I think of myself as a artist and not 'a woman artist', unfortunately I believe there is still a place for an exhibition like La Femina," she said.
Wendy has a busy year ahead with two big shows in Australia and perhaps another tilt at the big prize.
"I am not sure if I will enter the Archibald this year... I'm working on two major exhibitions, BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS Burlesque and Backstage, and CIRCUS," she said.
Artist Wendy Sharpe lives and works in Sydney and Paris. She is one of Australia's most awarded artists, wins including The Sulman Prize, The Portia Geach Memorial Award (twice), The Archibald Prize and two international travelling scholarships. She has been awarded artist residencies in Paris, Egypt, Mexico, China and Antarctica (twice).
Major commissions include one by the Australian War Memorial, as an Australian official artist to East Timor (the first woman since WW2).
She currently is artist-in-residence with Circus Oz.
She has held more than 45 solo exhibitions around Australia and internationally.