Dear judges of the Archibald Prize,

I hope you don’t mind that I’m writing.

It’s just that I know, as a three-time entrant, that the Archibald Prize is sometimes a mystery surrounded by a labyrinth in an unfamiliar maze, and I’d like your help. Of course, judging is a difficult job, after all there are nearly 900 works that are mostly oils of unfamiliar faces varying in quality. It can’t be easy.

That’s why this year I tried to make your job a little easier by using the maverick materials of paper and ink (gigantic paper in one case and a gigantically wide Japanese album notebook in the other — more on that in a second).

You may even have read my words (the Japanese Album “A to Z of the Archibald“).

If you recall my works, I succeeded in a small way by being noticeable.

If not, please accept for apologies for failing to captivate you.

I’m writing with a simple request that I’d be ever so grateful if you can help with.

I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t select me as a finalist this year. That’s OK, truly (after all, winning at a contest isn’t always the point). I wonder if you might shed some light on what you thought of my paintings?

It would be so helpful for next time.

(After all, sometimes for any artist it can feel like we’re Dorothy and judges are the Wizard of Oz behind a great big curtain).

Perhaps I could be so bold as to go a small step further and ask you to imagine something.

Van Gogh and Monet, for example, were both well acquainted with rejection in their lifetime but were acclaimed later. Of course it’s not a fair comparison, but imagine if my work were to be recognised and praised in 10 or 20 or 50 years, I wonder what you think might be said?

I’ve drawn an imaginary book from the future called “Australia’s Greatest Art” below, written a few sentences (see Sidney Nolan on the left for an example, and myself on the right) with blank spaces to make it easier for your simple words of encouragement (it’s my way of clinging onto hope — the great fuel for any artist’s endurance).


Thank you taking the time to hear from me.

Kindly, Oscar

P.S — If you’re a judge, I’d love for you to email me at [email protected] If you know a judge, I’d be ever so grateful if you could get this letter to them!

Here is a list of the judges:

Mr Guido Belgiorno-Nettis
Mr Mark Nelson
Mr Geoff Ainsworth
Mr Khadim Ali
Mrs Ashley Dawson-Damer
Professor S Bruce Dowton
Ms Samantha Meers
Ms Gretel Packer
Mr Ben Quilty
Mr Andrew Roberts
Ms Eleonora Triguboff

*This piece was originally published at Daily Review.

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