Hunt begins for thousands of lost and rare Australian artworks – and they could be on your wall – Daily Mail


Hunt begins for thousands of lost and rare Australian artworks – and they could be hanging on your wall

  • The Gallery of NSW is creating an online catalogue of Archibald submissions  
  • Curator of Australian and pacific art, Natalie Wilson, said 6,000 pieces are lost
  • She said they could be anywhere, including in homes, galleries or private clubs 

The hunt has begun for over 6,000 pieces of art – created by some of Australia’s most celebrated artists – whose whereabouts are unknown. 

Natalie Wilson, the curator of Australian and Pacific art for the Gallery of New South Wales, is creating an online catalogue of submissions for the Archibald Prize ahead of next year’s 100th anniversary of the country’s most famous artistic prize. 

Ms Wilson said over 6,000 pieces submitted for the prize before 2003 are missing and they could be anywhere, from private clubs to galleries, museums or even hanging in someone’s home.  

Natalie Wilson, the curator of Australian and pacific art for the Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, is creating an online catalogue of Archibald submissions dating back to 1921 to mark its 100th anniversary (pictured: A sketch by Paul Constances in 1935)

Ms Wilson said over 6,000 pieces, specifically before 2003, are missing and they could be anywhere including in private clubs, galleries, museums or even hanging up in someone’s home

The gallery wants to know the location of the artwork, photographs if no images are available online, and the information of the person who has the pieces in their possession.  

‘We’re calling out to people around Australia to look in their attics or ask their great aunts and uncles if there is a portrait in their family that was perhaps painted by an Archibald artists.’ Ms Wilson told ABC Radio Brisbane

Ms Wilson is trying to locate works, especially from the early decades of the portraiture prize, created by artists including Enid Dickson and Constance Paul – and images from the Wynne and Sulman Prize collections.  

‘One is from the 1930s from Enid Dickson who didn’t use paints, but pastels, in the 1930s. Gwen Grant is another who painted in the very first decade, and there’s so many works where we have no idea where they are,’ she said. 

The gallery is looking for the current location of the artwork, photographs if no images are available online, and the information of the person who has the pieces in their possession (pictured: ‘Self-portrait at Moree’ created by Joe Furlonger in 2014)

Ms Wilson is trying to locate works, especially from the early decades of the prize, created by artists including Enid Dickson and Constance Paul – and images from the Wynne and Sulman Prize collections (pictured: ‘The Power and the Passion’ by Michael Mucci)

Another highly sought-after piece is a portrait of architect Burley Griffin created by Constance Paul in 1929. 

The main hurdle with locating this piece is the Art Gallery of NSW only has a preliminary sketch, so they don’t know what the final piece looks like. 

Ms Wilson believed Australians would be excited to help the gallery find the missing artwork. 

‘We know where 1,500 are and we’re putting together the pieces of the Archibald puzzle so we can put together an archive online that people around Australia can use and to have a look at the history of the prize,’ she said. 

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