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Blue Period - Archibald Prize Finalist 2009

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

“I loved her transparency and the feeling that she was so aware of everything going on around her.” - Abbey McCulloch, Artist

A Blue Period
Abbey McCulloch's portrait of Nell Schofield

Everyone loves the Archibald Prize, right? It’s an annual celebration of Australia’s arts and culture in portraits with tantalising prize money attached.


Queensland artist Abbey McCulloch created a Manga-like vision of me after a meeting on the Gold Coast while I was hosting a film awards night. I had gold nail polish on. But the mood was all blue - sea, sky, feeling.


It was selected as an Archibald Prize finalist in 2009 and elicited some interesting in-house reflections at the Art Gallery of NSW.


"I was struck by how perfectly one of the paintings had captured the colours and textures of Wednesday", wrote Holly Bennett; "... watery blues and tinges of yellow, edged with translucent pink; both drowning and glowing. Melancholy and refreshing at the same time, it was Wednesday, both the word itself and the personality that the weekday had in my head. I visited that painting a lot in my lunch breaks, basking in the glorious feeling that a little piece of the universe had clicked into place for a while.”



I love that synchronicity, that synaesthesia, or condition of ‘joined’ sensations. I like to think of it as being on the same wavelength of energy, or sur la meme longue d’onde, as they say in France.


Another Nell was also hung that year, the artist and friend who's own work I admire so much. Her portrait was by Richard Larter and portrayed six Nells! There was also a 'Portrait of a bad muthaf***a' by Mike Chavez, his subject being another amazing artist Richard Bell (who I write about here).



My portrait toured the country and I remember the shock of turning a corner in Melbourne to see a massive replica in a department store window.


Abbey was kind enough to give me the original but after a decade or so I decided to pass it on into good hands. It was just too powerful for me to to look at each day. So in 2020 I donated it to the National Portrait Gallery


'I hope this painting captures something brave and quietly zealous about her.' - Abbey Mcculloch, Artist.











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