HIGHLANDS CREATIVES // Archibald Prize Finalists In Our Backyard - Part 2

HIGHLANDS CREATIVES // Archibald Prize Finalists In Our Backyard - Part 2

The Southern Highlands is home to an abundance of artistic talent. In the second part of this two-part series, acclaimed artist and Archibald Prize Finalist in 2018, Noel Thurgate, finds himself on display. 

Part Two::

Noel Thurgate

Berrima local of 5 years, lifelong artist.

“There has never been any other field but art for me, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Noel has been an exhibiting artist since the 70’s and a teacher at the National Art School (NAS) since the 80’s.

“Teaching has been a great way to share my love of drawing and painting whilst earning money.  I was the Head of the Drawing department at NAS and I continue to work there part time, teaching life drawing.

Noel has been an Archibald Prize finalist five times, this year he ‘got the nod’ for his portrait of Elisabeth Cummings. 

“Although I have known Elisabeth for over 20 years and admired her work, I hadn’t been to her studio until I began preparatory drawings for this painting,” Noel said.

Noel Thurgate with artwork


He first entered the Archibald Prize in 1977 as a final year student at art school, aged 22 and was “over the moon” to be named as a finalist. His work was selected again in 1978 and ‘79, then 37 years later in 2017 and ‘18. 

“I am always very pleased to be selected as a finalist in any competition and being a finalist in this years’ Archibald Prize is certainly no exception!” 

Noel describes his work as representational. “What I find endlessly fascinating is the underlying abstraction that gives figurative work its compositional strength and dynamics. I have for many years been working with collage as part of the drawing process. Some recent works have ‘grown’ to become assemblages. The materials include various Japanese papers, bits of wood, cloth, found objects, all in combination with oil and acrylic paint.”

Just as you would expect from a lifelong artist, Noel is busy creating a new series of works.

“I am currently developing a body of work featuring large portrait heads of ageing artists. They are drawings and collages and will most likely be exhibited next year in Sydney.

He has also been invited to exhibit in the Kedumba Drawing prize, the Bowral & District Art Society Bi-annual Celebrity Portrait Show and is working on a couple of private portrait commissions.

Noel Thurgate artwork and sketch


This Berrima local loves the Southern Highlands lifestyle and it’s clearly a great fit for his career in the arts.  

“The Southern Highlands’ possesses that sweet combination of beautiful surroundings, peace and quiet, but it’s still close enough to Sydney to maintain regular contact with colleagues and friends based there.”


To view & purchase Noel’s work he can be contacted personally via email: [email protected] or through the Defiance Gallery in Sydney.

The Archibald Prize will be hung in the Art Gallery of NSW until September 9.


If you missed part one of Movers and Makers:: Archibald Prize Finalists, you can read it here. It's all about the talented Vanessa Stockard.


Are you a local artist and want to share your work or an upcoming exhibition with us? We would love to hear from you! Email us at The Fold Southern Highlands: [email protected]


Elizabeth Pilkington


Have you read this?

How To // Tree Change

How To // Tree Change   We made our move down to The Southern Highlands from Sydney 8 years ago. I’m certainly a different person to the one I was when we drove into the driveway from our small terrace in the inner west of Sydney with a goldfish strapped into the front seat and two little girls in the back, peer...

September 28, 2018