The 2011 Archibald Prize has been awarded to Ben Quilty for his portrait of artist Margaret Olley.


Quilty embraced the elderly artist after he was awarded the $50,000 prize in Sydney on Friday.

He said he first met Olley when she was a guest judge for the 2002 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, which he won.

“It’s quite moving to be here today,” he said, adding that Olley had been a “very maternal figure to me, but most of all a friend”.

Quilty, who is based in the NSW Southern Highlands, also took out the 2009 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

His winning entry was a portrayal of singer Jimmy Barnes in oils

and aerosol.

Other famous faces that feature in this year’s final shortlist include Cate Blanchett, model Gemma Ward, teen sailor Jessica Watson and celebrity Matt Moran.

Several SBS personalities are the subjects of four paintings.

Waleed Aly (The Late Session), Richard Morecroft and David Astle (Letters and Numbers) plus Jason Gann (Wilfred) have all been painted for the portrait competition

“The inclusion of four SBS personalities in this year’s competition highlights the network’s cultural relevance, and in particular that of our locally produced content. SBS is proud to be involved in this prestigious national art prize, and we wish all the artists in the competition the best for their entries,” said Matt Campbell, Director of TV and Online Content at SBS.

“It is very exciting to be part of the Archibald, and I am particularly privileged to have been painted by Peter Wegner, who I think is a great Australian painter,” said Richard Morecroft.

“It’s also very exciting to be sharing an art gallery wall with a fine portrait of David Astle. Surely it must be one of the very few times that two people from the one TV show have hung in the Archibald at the same time.”

The Archibald Prize will be on display at the Art Gallery of NSW from 16 April to 26 June.