Archibald Prize: Curtin University lecturer Shirlee-Ann Knight is bidding the honour

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE Archibald Prize is Australia’s most prestigious portraiture competition.

Since 1921, the annual competition, named after benefactor Jules François Archibald, has piqued the interest of the art world, who come together to view career and hobby artists who have painted inspiring Australians.

This year– and for the next four– Curtin University lecturer Shirlee-Ann Knight will enter a portrait of an influential Australian woman.

She was inspired when she noticed female painters, painting females were under represented on the winners list.

“In the past 20 years two women painting portraits of women have won the Archibald Prize,” she said.

“The idea of painting five portraits in five years was big enough of a goal to motivate me to complete it and to do a better painting each year.”

In two weeks Dr Knight will send a completed oil on canvas portrait 160x85cm in size to Sydney.

Her subject is Shelley resident and Telethon Kids Institute professor Donna Cross.

Dr Knight said Prof Cross was an easy choice for a first subject.

“She meets the criteria of someone I admire and has had an impact,” she said.

“She is extraordinary in her ordinariness, she is motivating and captivating and has all the characteristics and she is very supportive and kind for someone so busy.”

Dr Knight achieved an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts 26 years ago, and despite lecturing in information systems she has continued with art.

She said her works had been described as photo-real style, but she had not set out to adhere to one particular style.

“I’ve just tried to capture her, to capture the worker,” she said.

“I did this to challenge myself, and I am challenged – it’s so different to anything I’ve done.”

Dr Knight said she was looking forward to taking on the second subject.

“I haven’t decided who the next person will be, it will just have to be a woman who inspires me,” she said.