Changes to make Archibald Packing Room Prize vote democratic

24 March 2023

Changes are coming to the voting process used to select the winner of the Packing Room Prize, traditionally the first award made in the annual Archibald Prize for Australian portraiture.

In short, Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) packers unbox and install the works for the Archibald Prize exhibition, then decide on the portrait they liked the most. However the past head packers, Steve Peters and Brett Cuthbertson, both of whom have recently retired, held the deciding vote.

A new voting process will see a panel of three people, each with an equal vote, determine a winner:

The new Packing Room Pickers are Timothy Dale, Monica Rudhar and Alexis Wildman, three professional art handlers with 19 years of hands-on Archibald Prize experience between them. “In line with the discussions around how the prize was actually judged we felt that a more collaborative decision would be more appropriate,” Dale says.

I’ve always seen the Packing Room Prize as a light aside to the main competition, suspecting the winning choice was always subjective, which was fine by me. If I were selecting a winner, I’d choose the painting that personally appealed to me the most.

The changes could well suit participating artists though, who have long considered the Packing Room Prize to be the “kiss of death”, as, to date, no winner has gone on to win the main Archibald Prize.


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