Signet Presents Unpacking Genius

|  3 minute read

The Archibald Prize is the nation’s most prestigious art prize, but it has recently been upstaged by a more down to earth prize: The Packing Room Prize. That’s the one we wanted to support, and it’s judged by the warehouse legends who unpack and hang the entries, in particular, this guy.

Meet Brett Cuthbertson: full-time head packer for the Art Gallery of NSW, part-time cult hero. For 364 days of the year, Brett is an underdog in the highbrow art world. However, for one day of the year, he is elevated to cult hero status, as he holds the majority vote for the Packing Room Prize with 52 percent.

Accompanying the title of Head Packer is the interest of every media channel in Australia, all vying to be the first to hear Brett’s Aussie art critiques around his winning choice for the Packing Room Prize.

“I have no art background whatsoever, none at all! So, naturally I’m the perfect choice to judge the Packing Room Prize,” says Brett.

The Packing Room Prize is the underdog of the prestigious Archibald Prize, awarded to the best entry submitted in the Archibald, as judged by the guys in the packing room who unpack and hang the entries. In the highbrow art world, the Packing Room Prize is more akin to what everyday Aussies appreciate and enjoy, representing the layman’s point of view towards art.

“Brett differs from an art critic because he is just an ordinary everyday Australian. To have Brett judging the Packing Room Prize is important because he’s not doing it from a curator’s point of view, he’s just doing it as an everyday Aussie bloke,” – Samantha Luck, Art Gallery of NSW.

While the Archibald Prize is judged on being a depiction of Abstract Expressionism, Art Nouveau or Cubism, the judging criteria down at the Packing Room is a lot simpler – the work must be good, and the subject should be someone everyone knows. Last year it was no different.

“I didn’t see anything I liked arrive for four days, and on the fifth day, the winning painting came in wrapped. The warehouse guys ran in and said, ‘We’ve just unwrapped one you finally might actually like,’ and I went out and saw it and said, ‘You beauty, that’s the one I want. That’s the 2019 winner!” Brett recalls.

What made this portrait of David Wenham painted by Tessa MacKay stand out from the rest of the Archibald entries?

Winning portrait of David Wenham painted by Tessa MacKay

“You can see how the artist captured the subject in a moment of reflection both literally and metaphorically…also the vase is bloody good.”

While the Australian public reveres Brett’s unconventional art critiques, we wanted to know if he will ever get called up to the big leagues and judge the prestigious Archibald Prize?

“Hopefully, one day they will recognise that my choices are far better, and I get pushed up to the head of the trustees. I’d be in a whole different world up there with them. On second thoughts, I’ll stay with my warehouse guys, and we will run the joint!”

Signet is a proud support partner of the Archibald Packing Room Prize Guys and over 60,000 everyday Aussie legends.

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