Archibald Prize 2021: Art Gallery of New South Wales

Thea Anamara Perkins is a finalist in the The Archibald Prize with her work Rachel – a portrait of her aunt Rachel Perkins.

‘I wanted to paint her to acknowledge what she’s done for our country as a filmmaker. It is difficult to articulate the hard truths of our history,’ says the Sydney artist.

 

‘In recent years, she’s been documenting our Arrernte women’s heritage. The designs I painted on her skin belong to a public women’s ceremonial song, shared with us by our senior knowledge-holder MK Turner, OAM. It translates as;

 

‘Because I am a woman I shimmer

The spirit is standing with me in the sky 

I stand in the midst of the dreaming

We glitter like in a dream

Someone strong is holding (the ceremonial object)

Holding it in the middle of the sky’

 

‘This resonated deeply with me as a powerful, joyful assertion of the incredible matriarchy in our culture, our dreaming, as well as melding beautifully with the contemporary experience of a First Nations person on the journey to preserve our dynamic culture.

 

‘I hoped to capture this energy in the portrait, as well as something of Aunty Rachel’s character in her expression: a pensive, steely gaze floating over deep waters.’

 

Request a preview of Thea's forthcoming exhibition Shimmer here.