Arts & culture

HOTA celebrates 100 years of Australian portraiture with Archie 100 Exhibition

July 21, 2023

HOTA, Home of the Arts is on a high, rolling off New York’s Pop Masters exhibition with a unique opportunity to host Australia’s most iconic portraits with the Archie 100 celebrating 100 years of Australia’s oldest and most-loved portrait award.

From 15 July to 2 October, visitors will get to witness the evolution of important cultural history, from our biggest contributors in arts and entertainment to sports, politics, and more. Following extensive research and a national appeal to uncover lost portraits, the selection has been curated from over 6,000 pieces from libraries, galleries, and rarely-sighted private collections.

As the Gold Coast’s initiative to establish itself as an arts destination attracts a number of anticipated events, this opportunity is sure to spark local interest and conversation with guided tours, programs, and public workshops. HOTA’s Acting Director Bradley Vincent is particularly enthusiastic about how the increasing diversity throughout the last century of portraits shows cultural progression.

“It is so important that everyone is able to see themselves represented in our cultural landscape. The Archibald Prize is the most famous portrait prize in the country, so representation matters even more,” says Mr Vincent.

“You can see the evolution from what we might recognise as classical portraiture through Modernism, right up to contemporary ideas of what a portrait is today. And we are looking at all of this through a uniquely Australian lens. It is a show full of Australian faces – representing all of the things that this encompasses.”

With a range of styles and interpretations to explore for history buffs and art lovers alike, there’s something exquisitely striking about each work. Bradley has more than a few favourites.

“Every time I walk through the exhibition a new work grabs my attention – from big, loud works to quieter, more contemplative moments… Nora Heyson’s portrait of Robert H Black, MD is a beautiful example of Australian Modernism. And I love the rich colours and textures of Elizabeth Cumming’s self-portrait which depicts an interior space with all of the lushness of a traditional landscape painting.”

Other notable works on display include Miss M Roberts – Portrait in grey (1933) by Grace Crowley, Barry Humphries in the character of Mrs Everage (1969) by John Brack, and former resident of the GC William Robinson’s Equestrian self-portrait (1987).

“It is wonderful to be partnering with the Art Gallery of New South Wales to bring these artworks to the Gold Coast. Many of them have not been seen since they were first hung in the Archibald Prize. This project brings them all together for the first time to tell such a rich story,” notes Mr Vincent.

To throw a curveball, we thought to ask the Art Director himself who he would like to see have a portrait in the Archie 100.

“Because she will always be a Gold Coaster to us, I think Margot Robbie is overdue for an epic contemporary portrait. Is there a better time than now?! Otherwise, a dual portrait of Baz Luhrman and Catherine Martin would be great to see. I wonder how an artist would choose to capture these two who are so adept at creating whole other worlds themselves. I think that is a challenge.”

Find out more on this unmissable event here.