Two Archibald finalistsDoug Conway
Double delight in art world
One Trinitarian making the final cut for Australia’s premier portrait prize is a signal achievement but two in the same year?
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Cameron Dimopoulos (2011) after his self-portrait, Limbo, was named an Archibald Prize 2023 finalist along with the portrait of celebrated oud player Joseph Tawadros painted by Randall Sinnamon (1987).
Cameron’s work was perhaps the longest shot, if only because he entered at the last minute, checking the closing date for submissions on the very last day, then rushing home to pack a previously painted but unfinished work for submission. Even then, his main entry was for the associated Sulman Prize; he decided Limbo was worth the extra $50 Archibald entry fee seeing as he was going to the NSW Art Gallery anyway. And it was his first crack at the Archibald, against Randall’s seventh.
Both artists credited Trinity as a key factor in their development.
Randall, whose studio is at Jervis Bay, chose economics as a subject early in high school because “I always thought art was too much fun”.
“I changed to art in Year 10 and it was such a relief. I did three-unit art in Year 11 and won a Trinity Arts Society scholarship in Year 12. It was probably the best thing that happened to me at school.”
As a student he painted at the original Delmar Gallery in Victoria St, Summer Hill, and learned much about art while helping former long-serving teacher and Arts Society instigator Max Taylor to stage exhibitions.
“When painting Joseph Tawadros, I wanted to capture his individual fashion style, cultural background and the emotional intensity of his music, having listened to all of his albums, over and over, for months,” he said.
Cameron, who works at the Elastic Digital creative agency in Sydney, said he learned to paint in Year 8 and studied art, along with design and technology, in Years 11 and 12.
“I was very, very fortunate to have access to all the resources of the School, which you don’t realise until later,” he said.
“The teachers were excellent. I learned the fundamental skills there; I had no idea how to paint and I learned the proper techniques.”
A first-generation Australian with Greek heritage, he said of his self-portrait: “In Greek culture, the number three is associated with harmony, wisdom and understanding. I have juxtaposed that magic number with the feeling of being neither here nor there; directionless and in limbo, searching for answers.”
The Archibald experience has brought the two artists together in friendship as well as sparking interest in their work.
“I know artists who have been entering the Archibald for 25 years and never been picked,” said Randall.
“Now people from other portrait prizes are contacting me.”
He is already planning his eighth entry for next year.
The Archibald Prize finalists are on exhibition at the NSW Art Gallery until September when they go on a regional tour.