Wendy Sharpe

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Wendy Sharpe

Wendy Sharpe with "Self Portrait with Imaginary Friend" at the Yellow House, NSW, Sydney.jpeg
Known forArtist
AwardsSulman Prize, Archibald Prize, Portia Geach Memorial Award

Wendy Sharpe FRSN (born 1960 in Sydney) is an Australian artist who lives and works in Sydney and Paris. She is the only child of British parents and has a Russian Jewish heritage. Her father is the writer and historian Alan Sharpe. She counts among her influences paintings by Chaïm Soutine and Max Beckmann.[1] She is the winner of numerous major awards including the Archibald Prize, the Sulman Prize, the Portia Geach Memorial Prize and The Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize. She was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial as an official Australian War Artist in East Timor in 1999–2000 (the first woman since World War II). Her partner is artist Bernard Ollis.


Sharpe is a mid-career Australian artist, who has held numerous shows both nationally and internationally, including over 59 solo exhibitions.

Many of Sharpe's work include imagery of the everyday as well as self-portraits and alter egos. She works in multiple mediums from painting, to installation and performance.

Residencies and commissions[edit]

Sharpe is based in Australia, she spends part of every year in Paris, and has also had exhibitions and residencies in multiple countries — China, Iran, Mexico, France, United States, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Italy, Syria. Sharpe travels extensively and has been awarded many residencies and commissions overseas. Notable examples include as special guest of the Australian Ambassador to Egypt, as resident artist aboard the scientific vessel Aurora Australis in 2012 to commemorate the centenary voyage of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson to Antarctica with Mawson's Hut Foundation (and again in 2014),[1] Obracadobra artist residency in Oaxaca, Mexico (2014) and artist residency at Funxing-Ginger Art Space, Zhouzhuang, Jiangsu, China in 2015. Sharpe has a great passion for the performing arts, and has created many works on this theme through residencies with the Australian Ballet (at the Arts Centre Victoria, 2008-9) and with Circus Oz in Melbourne and Sydney (2015–2016). In 1998 she was commissioned by the City of Sydney to create public art installation: a series of eight paintings based on the life of Australian swimmer and movie star Annette Kellerman. These paintings are permanently displayed in the Cook+Phillip Aquatic Centre, Sydney.

A major retrospective of her work was organised in 2012 by S. H. Ervin Gallery, The National Trust, Sydney. She is currently represented by King St Gallery on William (Sydney), Philip Bacon Galleries (Brisbane), Linton & Kay (Perth) and Michael Reid Gallery (Berlin).

Honours and awards[edit]

Sharpe won the Sulman Prize in 1986 with Black Sun – Morning and Night,[2] awarded by Albert Tucker, the Archibald Prize in 1996 with Self Portrait – as Diana of Erskineville,[3] Portia Geach Memorial Award twice in 1995 with "Self Portrait with Students – After Adélaïde Labille-Guiard" and 2003 with "Self Portrait with Teacup and Burning Paintings", the Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize in 2014 with "Self Portrait with Imaginary Friend", and many more. She has been a finalist many times in the Archibald Prize, the Sulman Prize, the Doug Moran Portrait Prize, The Kedumba Drawing Prize, The Dobell Prize for Drawing, and various other visual arts awards throughout Australia.[citation needed]

She was awarded the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship in 1987 through the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She then completed a residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris (and again in 2007).[citation needed]

She has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize six times, and the Sulman Prize fourteen times. This includes winning both awards.[citation needed]

Sharpe created in 2014 a series of portraits of asylum seekers in Australia, "Seeking Humanity: Portraits and Stories of Asylum Seekers and Refugees", which became a touring exhibition. In 2015 she became Ambassador for the Asylum Seeker Centre, Sydney.[citation needed]

In 2018 Sharpe was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (Est 1821) and was gazetted as such in January 2019 by the then Governor, David Hurley AC in the NSW Government Gazette.[citation needed]

Official war artist[edit]

In 1999, Sharpe was appointed official war artist during the Australian military role in East Timor, through the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.[4] She was the first female artist to be appointed in this role since the Second World War.

She was a member of the Council of the War Memorial from 2005 to 2013.


  • 2017: “The Enraged Musicians” with the Australian Art Quartet, Unashamedly Original Festival, City Recital Hall, Sydney
  • 2016 : “Butt Naked Salon” with the Australian Art Quartet, Yellow House, Sydney


  1. ^ Mark, David. (5 January 2012). "[ An artist in Antarctica]". "AM, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Sir John Sulman Prize winners (1936 - )". Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  3. ^ Schmidt, Lucinda (20 September 2006). "Profile:Wendy Sharpe". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  4. ^ Wilkins, Lola. "Wendy Sharpe". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 23 September 2010.