october, 2023

13oct9:00 am13nov5:00 pmBald Archy(october 13) 9:00 am - (november 13) 5:00 pm Rydges Newcastle, Cnr Merewether & Wharf Road, Newcastle

Event Details

Albo and Dutton the “face off” in Bald Archy Prize caricature exhibition – Rydges Newcastle 13 October – 12 November

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton will face off in an exhibition space at Rydges Newcastle, as finalists in this year’s Bald Archy Prize for caricature portraits are unveiled on Friday 13 October.

The exhibition – which is on a regional tour of south-east Australia – will be on display at Rydges Newcastle from 13 October – 12 November, and will be available for general viewing from 10am – 4pm each day. Entry is free.

Considered Australia’s premier satirical art prize (even if slightly less famous than the Archibald Prize), the Bald Archy Prize celebrates the lighter side of art, politics and the larrikin Australian spirit.

Famous and infamous personalities are plentiful among the 22 finalists, though in the end, Albo, Scomo, Dutton, George Pell, Gina Rinehart, Ash Barty, Costa and even King Charles failed to take the crown in this year’s hard-fought competition.

The winner, instead, went to a portrait by Marty Steel of the founder of the Bald Archy Prize, Peter Batey who passed away in 2019.

Peter Batey OAM was a distinguished arts administrator and pioneer of contemporary Australian theatre. After a long and successful career, Peter relocated to Coolac, a small town near Gundagai, where he contributed significantly to the regional community and created the Festival of Fun, of which the Bald Archy Prize was a key part.

Throughout his career in theatre, Peter produced and directed some 130 professional productions across Australia and the world. He is known for directing all five major Reg Livermore stage shows, revolutionising Australian commercial theatre in the mid-70’s. Batey has also been publicly acknowledged by Barry Humphries for his contribution to the creation of the character Dame Edna Everage.

His love of humour led to his creation of the Bald Archy Prize in 1994. His reason? “It was meant to amuse – apparently a problem with people who believe audible laughter shouldn’t be permitted in an art gallery, let alone unsolicited conversation with a complete stranger.”

The portrait is by Marty Steele with the caricature titled (fittingly): Never a Dull Moment. The caricature depicts Bald Archy founder Peter Batey riding aloft the airborne figure of chief judge, cockatoo Maude.

Marty Steele won a $10,000 prize, provided by hotel entrepreneur, Dr Jerry Schwartz, who owns Rydges Newcastle as well as other hotels and tourism venues across the Hunter Valley.

The Hunter Valley is well represented amongst the 22 finalists, with Maitland artist and previous Bald Archy winner, James Brennan, having two caricatures in the exhibition.

After the death of Batey in 2019, the administration of the Bald Archy Prize was handed to the Museum of the
Riverina, Wagga Wagga, which has assumed responsibility for running the prize in perpetuity and now Australia’s satirical painters and cartoonists are back again capturing the famous and infamous characters that dominated the headlines in 2022.

Not surprisingly, given that 2022 was an election year, Albo’s ascension to the PM throne, Scomo’s deposing, and Dutton’s new ‘voice’ as Liberal leader provided key themes for this year’s finalists.

Other dominant power figures represented include Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch and King Charles, with Australia’s very own claim to royalty – Dame Edna – sharing the canvas.

Subjects weren’t restricted to politicians though, with celebrities such as the late Olivia Newton-John, Costa Georgiadis and Maggie Beer making the cut. And sporting stars – as ever – are included in the collection, with Wayne Bennett, and Ash Barty framed for posterity.

While the Bald Archy Prize has sometimes been held in contempt by the ‘art elite’, the fact that the competition has been operating for almost 30 years is testimony to the competition’s popularity and relevance.

Hotel owner and developer, Dr Jerry Schwartz, is sponsoring the Bald Archy exhibition, and said that Peter Batey would have been proud of this year’s collection of finalists and appreciated the venue for this year’s exhibition.

“Peter hated the ‘stuffiness’ of the traditional art world; he wanted people to enjoy art in convivial surroundings, have a drink and a laugh – and that’s precisely what we have done with the venue at Rydges Newcastle,” said Dr Schwartz.

“Hotels – like art – need to change with the times. Gone are the days when hotel lobbies were like mausoleums, all marble and empty. We want to bring the people and life back into hotels, make them energetic public spaces, part of the community, and this exhibition does exactly that.

“There has always been strong representation from Hunter Valley artists in the competition, so it is great to be able to bring the exhibition to the Rydges Newcastle for the public to enjoy.”
Full details: https://baldarchy.com.au/

For further information on the Bald Archy competition:
Luke Grealy, Manager Museum of the Riverina
Contact: d 61 2 6926 9652 | e grealy.luke@wagga.nsw.gov.au | m: 0429 516 929

For other media inquiries:
Peter Hook
Schwartz Family Company
Contact: peter@hookcommunications.com.au m: 0407 462 213


October 13 (Friday) 9:00 am - November 13 (Monday) 5:00 pm


Rydges Newcastle

Cnr Merewether & Wharf Road, Newcastle