HIGHLANDS CREATIVES // Archibald Prize Finalists In Our Backyard

HIGHLANDS CREATIVES // Archibald Prize Finalists In Our Backyard

Every year the anticipation builds around who will be selected as finalists in Australia’s oldest and best-known art prize for portraiture, The Archibald Prize.

Two local artists, Vanessa Stockard and Noel Thurgate were amongst the chosen few to be hung in the Art Gallery of NSW this year. It’s not the first time these two talented artists have found themselves as finalists in this prestigious art prize.

So how did these Bowral and Berrima locals come to pursue a career in art and successfully reach this height of recognition? In part one of this two-part series, the spotlight is on Vanessa Stockard.

Part One::

Vanessa Stockard

Bowral local of 8 years, lifelong artist

“I have always worked AT being an artist, however I had many other casual jobs, mainly bar work and picture framing to make any income. In my spare time I always painted,” Vanessa said.

Having grown up in a family that admired the arts, it was always a field that Vanessa loved and had some affiliation with. Her mother went to what is now the National Art School and Julian Ashton and her grandmother was a still life painter.

This is the second year that Vanessa is a finalist in the Archibald Prize, having also been selected in 2017. Both finalist entries were self-portraits, depicting her feelings as a new mother, having recently given birth to her daughter Isobel and then a year on, as a different, more confident woman and mother.

Vanesssa Stockart


Vanessa’s current materials of choice are oil paint on wood panels and she sometimes under-paints in acrylic. Vanessa describes her artistic style as being “colourful, playful, experimental and sometimes narrative.”

Derek Milkwood, a fictional character who was originally based on a real person, is an on-going series created by Vanessa that has attracted a strong following.

“Derek has been floating in my mind for over 20 years. It’s a series of work that deals with the absurd and also the social isolation that many of us feel in the world.”

It’s going to be a big year for Vanessa (and probably Derek too!) In September she will be showing with 3:33 Art Projects in collaboration with Max Germanos and the Clayton Utz Art Partnership. She will also be the exhibiting artist for the Arts in the Valley Kangaroo Valley, over the October long weekend. Then it’s off to the Champagne region in France for an artist residency, staying at Chateau Orquvaux with her husband William and daughter Isobel.

Vanessa Stockard


Despite the busy schedule of this flourishing artist, she still manages to find the time to enjoy the simple pleasures that a Southern Highlands’ lifestyle has to offer; “I love how quiet it is and having space, having cows for neighbours is the best. Also, I love waking up to see the Kangaroos feeding near the damn and black cockatoos that nest in the pines. We have planted 1000 native trees and look forward to them growing up so I can teach my daughter about the natural environment.”


To view & purchase Vanessa’s work:

View on Instagram: @vanessastockard @derekmilkwood

Allison at AKBellinger Gallery stocks some of Vanessa’s work: akbellingergallery.com.au

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


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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]

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Archibald Prize ‘movers & makers’ series coming soon…


Liz Pilkington

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