Art Gallery Of New South Wales head packer Brett Cuthbertson and his packing room team have awarded the 2020 Archibald Packing Room Prize to first time Archibald Prize entrant, Wongutha- Yamatji artist  Meyne Wyatt for his self portrait Meyne.

The West Australian born, Sydney based artist, writer and actor is the first indigenous artist to win any of the prizes on offer in the Archibald Prize in its 99 year history. Wyatt’s painting was selected as one of 55 finalist works from a record number of entries received for the Archibald Prize.

The Packing Room Prize- a cash prize of $1500 for the artist- is awarded to the best entry in the Archibald Prize as judged by the Gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries.

After 39 years working at the Gallery, head packer Brett Cuthbertson holds 52% of the vote for trhe Parking Room Prize.

“I have been known to say that artists who enter a self portrait have no hope of winning the Packing Room Prize, but in this case I made the exception to my rule as Meyne is both an artist and celebrity who is all over Australian television.”

After learning he had won the 2020 Packing Room Prize, Wyatt said he is still in a shock.

“Being a finalist for the Archibald Prize was a pipe dream, let alone being awarded the Packing Room Prize. I am absolutely ecstatic and truly humbled by this honour.”

Wyatt mentioned that his mother Susan Wyatt pushed him to enter his painting in the Archibald.  Interestingly, His mother is also an artist and was a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2003 for her portrait of Doris Pilkington (Nugi Garimarra),

This year a record number of entries were received for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, totalling 2565 entries, beating the 2012 record of 2276 entries. The 2020 Archibald Prize received 1068 entries, beating the previous record of 919 entries in 2019, and the Sulman Prize set a new record with 715 entries topping the 2012 high of 654 entries.

Finalists in all Prizes will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW from 26 September 2020 to 10 January 2021 and finalists in the Archibald Prize 2020 will tour to regional Queensland and New South Wales from 22 January 2021.

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Featured image: Meyne Wyatt’s award winning self portrait