Gina Rinehart the star in Bald Archy portraits
This article initially appeared on The Canberra Times
Words: Ron Cerabona
Photos by Melissa Adams
Women, breathe easy. The creator and director of the Bald Archy Prize, Peter Batey, said there was "nothing misogynist" about the comic portrait competition.
And, he said, "There's no censorship applied whatsoever."
Women have equal opportunity to be lampooned, and this year Prime Minister Julia Gillard and - especially - mining magnate Gina Rinehart were among the most prominent subjects. Rinehart turned up in various guises including a vampire and a Gone With the Wind-style southern belle and in a sinister-looking take on Shepard Fairey's Barack Obama poster that replaced the word "Hope" with "Mine".
Among the men, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Treasurer Wayne Swan were popular subjects. Russell Crowe made an appearance as his Les Miserables character Javert in There's No Business Like Crowe Business.
This year marks two significant anniversaries for the Bald Archy Prize: it turns 20, and Batey - a longtime actor, director and theatre administrator - turns 80.
Batey expressed amazement at the longevity and ever-increasing popularity of the comic portrait competition, which began as part of the Coolac Festival of Fun as a dig at the Archibald Prize. "It was only meant to be a little village joke," Batey said.
He was poking fun at the idea that art can be judged - "What do they do? give points for the frame, eyes, background?" - and instead of a panel of judges, the Bald Archy winner is chosen each year by a mysterious -and remarkably long-lived - cockatoo named Maude.
"She's still going strong," Batey said.
The Bald Archy Prize has regularly gone on to attract national and even international attention.
Canberra has hosted the touring exhibition for most of the time it has been running, first in Tuggeranong Arts Centre and then in Watson Arts Centre.
"Canberrans are a most enthusiastic audience - I know they're waiting for it each year."
Batey has each of the winners for the first two decades and while he hoped the Bald Archy Prize would go on "forever, I hope" he was thinking of donating the body of work to an institution.
"As far as I'm concerned it should be the National Portrait Gallery," he said.
"It's a very interesting and eccentric collection that provides a snapshot of social and political events over the last 20 years."
The 2013 Bald Archy Prize is on at
Watson Arts Centre, 1 Aspinall Street, Watson,
from February 8 to March 11.
Open daily from 10am to 4pm.