An Archibald winner’s life in pictures

AFTER the opening night speeches, artist Wendy Sharpe conducted a power point presentation of her life in art so far. From her early days as a child drawing for the school magazine through her nine years of art school study during which she honed her craft in painting and drawing and exhibiting in "little galleries".

"I'm a people painter. I'm more interested in people and their stories than landscapes," she told to the audience that filled the main gallery.

She also revealed how her career took off not long after she won the prestigious Sulman Prize in 1986 when she was in her mid-20s.

"That prize is judged by one artist and that was Albert Tucker that year. I was shocked. I was still a kid," she said as she flashed the winning work up on the big screen.

Wendy said the win had opened the door for her and she was able to travel the world to Europe, New York and Paris.

"I was a good candidate for a scholarship and being able to travel was hugely important to me," she said.

Wendy exhibited all over the place through scholarships, winning more prizes along the way, including the one that changed her life forever, the Archibald in 1996.

"I really got a lot of publicity. It was a novelty for a comparatively young woman to win. It really helped my career," she said.

"It's been 20 years now, it's ridiculous."

Wendy said that success had done wonders for her reputation.

So much so that her work adorns the wall of Australia's major galleries, the War Memorial in Canberra and even an aquatic centre.

She was invited to be the Australian War Memorial's official artist during the East Timor campaign.

She has also done residencies at Mexico's Day of the Dead festival, in Antarctica aboard the icebreaker Aurora Australis and been official artist for Circus Oz, the Australian Ballet and Australian Opera companies.

"I like capturing the intersection of magical things with the ordinary," she said.

"Backstage you might see a fairy princess drinking a cup of coffee. I love that."

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