‘Darlings of the Australian people’ captured on canvas for Archibald 2023


Artist Kathrin Longhurst met fashion designer Bianca Spender at a women’s charity event earlier this year, and asked her who would be painting her portrait for this year’s Archibald Prize.

“So far no one,” the daughter of Australian fashion design matriach Carla Zampatti said. So Longhurst, just back from a trip to New York and inspired by pop art took the initiative and asked to paint her.

The result is an Archibald entry she calls Icon-ic that is a triptych, with the fashion designer wearing a hi-vis halo, to “make a statement about fast fashion versus the hand-made artisanal fashion” that is the trademark of both Spender and her mother.

“The halo is a metaphor for the impossible standards women are held to,” said Longhurst, the winner of the 2021 Archibald Packing Room prize with her portrait of singer Kate Ceberano.

Although many joke that winning the Packing Room prize is the kiss of death for winning the actual $100,000 first prize, Longhurst said it helped catapult her art to a different level entirely.

“I’ve entered the Archibald on and off for 20 years and winning the Packing Room prize was life-changing. People may not know my name but when I say I won the Packing Room prize they know the painting because Kate is a ‘darling of the Australian people’,” said the German-born artist…