Budding Indian-origin artists in the Young Archie 2019 competition

Sydney’s Lakshman Nitish Ramesh is hung as a finalist for his self-portrait 'Me Myself and I' and Melbourne artist Hazel Thenamkodath has received an honourable mention for her portrait of her mother, titled Elizabeth.

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Two young artists of Indian origin have made it to the shortlist at this year’s Young Archie competition at the Art Gallery of NSW, held concurrently with the Archibald Prize exhibition.

Sydney’s Lakshman Nitish Ramesh is hung as a finalist for his self-portrait Me Myself and I, and Melbourne artist Hazel Thenamkodath has received an honourable mention for her portrait of her mother, titled Elizabeth.

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‘Me Myself and I’ by Lakshman Nitish Ramesh Photo by AGNSW/Diana Panuccio

Both were picked from 2100 entries nation-wide.

The contest is open for young artists aged 5-18 in four different age groups. They are asked to present a portrait of someone special in their lives.

“I am the most important person in my life, so I chose to make a self-portrait,” Lakshman, 17, told Indian Link about his pencil drawing.

His artist’s statement reads, “I chose to draw myself as my life is in my hands and I am responsible for my own actions. I drew myself with a neutral expression, (and) in black and white to symbolise that I am yet to experience life to the fullest. The red, orange and yellow gradient symbolises my future experiences, opportunities and life that will soon fill me with colour.”

Hazel picked her mum as her subject because “I cannot think of another individual who has provided me with so much support and love during my 17 years.”

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‘Elizabeth’ by Hazel Thenamkodath Photo by AGNSW/Diana Panuccio

Lakshman and Hazel have both been drawn to art since a very young age, and have benefitted from extra training outside of school.

Lakshman was encouraged to enter the Young Archies program at ACE Art and Design (Eastwood NSW) where he takes lessons, and Hazel is grateful for the weekly drawing lessons from “my absolutely phenomenal teacher Gwen.”

Their entries took them 12-14 hours to finish.

“I felt ecstatic when I heard I had been shortlisted,” Hazel revealed. “When I saw the other works accompanying my own, I was honoured to be a part of a group of very talented young individuals.”

Lakshman agreed. “I had seen previous years’ entries and was impressed with the detail, so being in the top ten was a very big deal.”

Victoria Collings, the Gallery’s senior coordinator of education and family programs, said of this year’s entries, “I can’t believe the standard – it gets higher each year. Talent and passion lifts each year. I love the stories too, and the fabulous range of techniques. Personally I love the idea of kids being excited about such a program, creating their works and sending them in.”

Describing the program she said, “It began in 2013. The Archibalds were very popular and schools were engaging with it in a major way. We looked at how we could engage further and make young visitors feel part of it, and so began a junior version.”

There are four prize winners in each age category: they get a cash prize of $200 and an artist’s pack. All finalists get $50 from the presenting partner ANZ and an Archibald catalogue. This year’s winners will be announced on 10 August.

The finalists are exhibited at the Gallery, and the Honourable Mentions at the SH Ervin Art Gallery.

“Everyone’s works of course can be seen on the website, where they are archived each year,” Victoria added.

Lakshman and Hazel both are keen to continue with their art.

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Lakshman (L) and Hazel (R)

“Submit an entry for the Archibalds? Maybe one day,” Lakshman said with promise. “I might even study fine arts at Uni, or perhaps architecture, I don’t know yet. But I will always have my art.”

Hazel claimed she had “no intention” of retiring from painting anytime soon. “I imagine there are many projects awaiting me in the future. Hopefully a couple will be worthy of submitting to the Archibalds.”

The Young Archie exhibition is on at the Art Gallery of NSW until 8 Sept.