Appreciating an Archibald winner 6



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Furore reigned among the artistic community this week as well known painter and convicted armed robber, Nigel Milsom, who was released from prison just a year ago was awarded the prize of all prizes for portraiture, The Archibald for Judo house pt 6 (the white bird), a portrait of his lawyer Charles Waterstreet.  Amongst some stiff competition, the artist showed an extraordinary journey with his painting, a giant portrait of his faith in his barrister.

The award is worth $100,000 to the man who has elevated his own view of the legal system in his artwork and takes him far away from the crime he committed in holding up a Seven Eleven store in Sydney not long after being awarded another prestigious art award,the Sulman Prize for his painting, Judo House 4.  He was sentenced to 6 years behind bars, but was released last year.  While inside he won the 2013 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, worth $150,000 for another painting, Uncle Paddy.

Have you been following the Archibald?  Let’s talk about it today.

Do you think that it is fitting that his winning portrait is the man he placed his faith in whilst inside the legal system?


judo house1
Judo House 6, winner of the 2015 Archibald Prize, supplied


Mr Milsom’s earlier prize wins were for different paintings.

Judo House 4

Mr Milsom famously wrote about his earlier win in the Sulman Prize for Judo House 4 in this way:

“This work is from an on-going series based around the loose idea of gambling, whether it be with one’s life, money, career or simply in the day-to-day decisions we all make.

The actual idea for this painting came to me after meeting an old man at my local bus stop who told me he travels into a city leagues club every Saturday to drink and bet on the horses with some old friends. His wife had died and he lived a very solitary life apart from his Saturday social engagements.

In the painting I’ve tried to capture a kind of social loneliness. The wordSTOW is a reference to the late Australian writer Randolph Stow who wrote about fear and paranoia and how emotions seem to grip small, isolated communities in his novel The suburbs of hell. His name seemed apt for this painting as it creates a sense of mystery.”

Nigel Milsom, 2012

Nigel Milsom_Moran Entry_uncle paddy
Uncle Paddy


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. It certainly is a striking portrait. If that is what competent judges chose then I’m all for it.

  2. Is that a picture of the artist or the prize winning portrait? Either way it is not flattering. If it is the winning portrait the I wouldn’t have even considered it as a possible entry let alone a prize, unless of course the prize was for the ugliest entry.

  3. You get used to the Judges picking weird stuff like this! The wackier the better as far as they are concerned. I entered a portrait last year and it was turned down for final exhibition because “It was too realistic”! A reason that puzzles me when I’m painting a portrait.

    1 REPLY
    • My daughter has entered 3 times and gets a similar rejection Brian.

  4. The guy should STILL be prison for criminal artistry!

  5. The Archibald prize portraits are never what I would choose. The judges do have some weird tastes and they always seem to chose somebody well known or known in some way.

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