Laura Jones wins Archibald Prize for portrait of Tim Winton


Winner Archibald Prize 2024 Laura Jones with  her winning work ‘Tim Winton’, oil on linen, 198 x 152.5 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Diana Panuccio
Winner Archibald Prize 2024 Laura Jones with her winning work ‘Tim Winton’, oil on linen, 198 x 152.5 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Diana Panuccio
The winner of the Archibald Prize for 2024 has been announced.

Kurrajong-based artist Laura Jones has won $100,000 for her portrait of Australian author and conservationist Tim Winton.

It’s the first time Jones takes home the prize after being a four-time finalist.

The artist said her heart was racing when Art Gallery of New South Wales director Michael Brand phoned this morning to deliver the news.

“There is an array of brilliant finalists for the 2024 Archibald Prize. I am shocked and humbled to be chosen as the winner,” she said.

“This is a life-changing moment for me. I would like to thank my sitter, Tim Winton. Tim is one of the world’s greatest novelists and also a tireless advocate for the environment. He is an inspiration to me as both an artist and as a human being.”

Jones was moved to paint Winton after undertaking an artist residency in 2016, dedicated to studying the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, which preceded a meeting with Winton at an environmental advocacy event.

“I wrote Tim a letter and sent him a book of my reef paintings, and we seemed to really connect on our interest in climate activism,” she said.

“I was amazed by the humility of this great novelist, who has enchanted generations of Australian readers.

“Last year, I watched his ABC documentary, Ningaloo Nyinggulu, about the fight to save Ningaloo Reef.

“It was beautiful and terrifying … I was stunned to discover a portrait of Tim had never been a finalist in the Archibald Prize.

“I approached his portrait as if it was a monotype, using thin brushstrokes and letting the paint bleed across the canvas like ink into paper. Dreamy yet direct.”

Based in Kurrajong in Greater Western Sydney, Jones credits her childhood spent in nature as a driver of her practice and her passion for environmental advocacy.

Working across painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture, she creates compositions that explore the complex relationships between humanity and nature.

On hearing of Jones’ win, Winton said: “I have to admit that I’m a very reluctant sitter, but I had seen Laura’s paintings of the Great Barrier Reef coral gardens, including her beautiful and tragic depictions of coral bleaching, so I was a little more curious and open than usual.

“After we spoke for a while on the phone it was clear we had some pressing concerns in common, like the fate of our oceans, and our culture’s refusal to take the climate emergency seriously, so I ended up agreeing to sit for her.

“She flew across to WA and it ended up being another long and engaging conversation! I haven’t seen the portrait properly yet, but this is lovely news. I’m thrilled for Laura. She’ll be beside herself.”

Winner Archibald Prize 2024, Laura Jones ‘Tim Winton’, oil on linen, 198 x 152.5 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

Jones’ painting was selected from 1005 entries for the Archibald Prize in 2024 and is one of 57 finalists on display at the Art Gallery.

Jones has been a finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, Portia Geach Memorial Award, The King’s School Art Prize, and the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. She has exhibited in public and commercial galleries since 2011, and her work is held in the Artbank collection, as well as Australian and international private collections.

Tim Winton is an acclaimed Australian novelist, revered for his ability to evoke rich and diverse Australian landscapes. He has authored 30 books, including the Miles Franklin Award-winning novels Cloudstreet (1991) and Breath (2008). Based in Perth, he has dedicated much of the last two decades to campaigning to protect Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef. In 2023, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished services to both literature and environmental advocacy.

Art Gallery director Michael Brand said Jones was overwhelmed when she took his phone call.

“When you look at this sensitive portrait, you can immediately feel the strong connection between the artist and sitter, forged through their shared interest in conservation,” he said.

“Laura’s bold but tender depiction of Tim’s face captures his vulnerability, while his figure melds into the background of wonderful watery brushstrokes. He is very present in the painting, making it a most deserving winner.”

Jones is also one of 40 finalists in the 2024 Sulman Prize, for her painting Sliding doors, and she is one of the subjects of Daniel Kim’s 2024 Archibald Prize finalist work, Blue jeans and flowers, where she is portrayed alongside fellow Incognito Art Show co-founders Ed and David Liston.

Meanwhile, Yolŋu elder and distinguished artist Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu from Yirrkala in the Northern Territory has won the Wynne Prize 2024 for her painting Nyalala gurmilili.

The work is one of the largest bark paintings ever produced and the first bark painting to be awarded the Wynne Prize. The painting depicts the miwatj, or ‘sunrise side’ in Yolŋu Matha. It relates to the north-easternmost part of Arnhem Land, NT, that receives the first light as the sun rises in the east. This is the landscape during April and the start of Miḏawarr (the harvest season following the wet), when the earth receives sudden surprise showers during what is meant to be the dry.

Winner Wynne Prize 2024, Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu ‘Nyalala gurmilili’, natural pigments on bark, 263 x 154 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

Respected Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) community Elder Naomi Kantjuriny has won the Sir John Sulman Prize 2024 and $40,000 for her work Minyma mamu tjuta, which depicts mamu, good and bad spirits that come in different forms and with varying powers.

A first-time Sulman finalist, Kantjuriny is the third Indigenous Australian to win the Sulman Prize.

Kantjuriny mainly works across painting and drawing, but is also a basket-maker and wood carver. She is a ngangkari or traditional healer who specialises in women’s and children’s health and provides treatments for the mind, body and spirit.

Winner Sulman Prize 2024, Naomi Kantjuriny ‘Minyma mamu tjuta’, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 197 x 153.5 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter


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