As chief sponsor of Australia’s premier satirical art competition, the Bald Archy Prize, when Dr Jerry Schwartz needed a suitable gallery to house the exhibition and announce the winning entry he disnt have to look far! He found the perfect solution when he selected the most colourful hotel in his portfolio, Ibis Sydney Barangaroo.
When Dr Schwartz first became involved with the competition in 2018, he created a ‘pop-up’ gallery from a store room – with million-dollar views! – at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. However, after appreciating the underutilised value of the space, he completely reimagined the area as Sydney’s newest and most luxurious hotel day spa – the Sofitel SPA Darling Harbour – which then required an alternative venue for the Bald Archy Prize exhibition.
The Ibis Sydney Barangaroo, undoubtedly the most colourful hotel in Dr Schwartz’s portfolio and instantly recognisable from its multi-coloured exterior and prominent city position, is now the new home for the equally colourful and distinctive Bald Arch Prize.
While a compact hotel, with limited public spaces, the atmospheric lounge was transformed into a mini art gallery by the professional team from the Museum of the Riverina, which now runs the competition.
Famous and infamous personalities were featured subjects for the 22 finalists, including current PM Anthony Albanese and deposed PM, Scott Morrison, along with many other political, business, sporting and entertainers who were in the public spotlight during 2022.
These included George Pell, Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch, Ash Barty, Daryl Maguire, ‘Mona Livia’ Newton-John, Wayne Bennett and two ‘royals’ from different sides of the world – King Charles and Dame Edna Everage.
The winner’s crown and a cheque for $10,000 from Dr Schwartz, however, went to Brisbane artist, Marty Steel, for his portrait of Bald Archy Prize founder, Peter Batey.
Peter Batey OAM was a distinguished arts administrator and pioneer of contemporary Australian theatre. After a long and successful career in theatre, Peter relocated to Coolac, a small town near Gundagai, where he created the Festival of Fun, from which the Bald Archy Prize evolved in 1994. The ‘Minister for Irreverent Art’ sadly passed away in 2019, but his legacy and the Bald Archy prize has been continued by the Museum of the Riverina, with the support of Dr Schwartz.
Dr Jerry Schwartz said that Peter would have been proud of this year’s collection of finalists and the new exhibition venue.
“Peter hated the ‘stuffiness’ of the traditional art scene. He wanted people to enjoy art in convivial surroundings, have a drink and a laugh – and that’s precisely what we have done with the venue at Ibis Sydney Barangaroo,” said Dr Schwartz.
“Hotels – like art – need to change with the times. Gone are the days when hotel lobbies were like mausoleums, all marble and empty. We want to bring people and life back into hotels, make them energetic public spaces, and part of the community. This exhibition has already attracted lots of Sydneysiders to the hotel, and our corporate and leisure guests also love the buzz it has created.
“The exhibition will be at the Ibis Sydney for a month before touring major regional centres around NSW, including Newcastle, where we will host the exhibition at our Rydges hotel.”
The exhibition is available for viewing at Ibis Sydney Barangaroo until April 14, from 10am to 4pm.
Full details and background to the competition HERE
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