Bald Archy Prize finalists reflect year full of same-sex marriage and citizenship debates

Bald Archy Prize finalists reflect year full of same-sex marriage and citizenship debates

Bald Archy Prize finalists reflect year full of same-sex marriage and citizenship debates

Updated 8 February 2018, 18:30 AEDT

If you felt like all you heard about for the past 12 months was same-sex marriage and the citizenship of this MP and that MP, the art world seems to agree.

It seems the Australian political scene in 2017 might have been a little too ripe for parody.

This year's finalists for the Bald Archy Prize — the Archibald Prize's satirical cousin — are predictably political, with Penny Wong, Cory Bernardi and Tony Abbott all over the canvas.

If you felt like all you heard about for the past 12 months was same-sex marriage and the citizenship of this MP and that MP, the art world seems to agree.

Australia's finest satirical artists have latched on to the unavoidable issues yet again but, with Ms Wong portrayed as everything from a Dr Evil-type character and a champion of the marriage revolution, finding a political pattern is not as easy as previous years.

"Each year we say 'Who's it going to be?' — it's been Clive Palmer, Jacqui Lambie — this one is a bit mixed up," Bald Archy Prize founder and director Peter Batey said.

"We've got some Abbotts and some Cory Bernardis, in fact we've got a lovely wedding of Abbott and Cory Bernardi together."

But the man most often depicted seems to be Barnaby Joyce after the revelation of his Kiwi heritage.

At least seven of the finalists have some allusion to the Deputy Prime Minister — doing the Haka, looking longingly at a sheep, fraternising with kiwis, or as Gina Rinehart's teacher's pet.

A rare outlet for caricaturists

But as much fun as the Bald Archies are, it serves a unique purpose.

Mr Batey said he had been told my a number of young artists the small gallery in Watson, in Canberra's north, offers one of the only outlets for satirists and the like.

"There is a sort of put-down about this level of art," he said.

"We get it quite a lot … [from] the art snobs saying 'Oh that. It's just nasty little paintings, jokes'.

"Well they're not, they're terrific."

However, some of the jokes were apparently a little bit too easy, with more than a few Barnabys and Bernardis missing the cut.

But artists should not complain to Mr Batey. He said he loves them all, but according to him it is his cockatoo, Maude, who makes the ultimate decisions.

"The standard this year is really terrific," he said.

"We have sometimes hung amateur paintings that are very amateur paintings and Maude says that's OK because there's a lot of rubbish in the Archibald."

The winner of the $10,000 Bald Archy Prize will be announced in Sydney on March 20.