Time, mystery and memory: Windsor artist reaches Sulman finals

A piece of work by Hawkesbury artist John Fitzgibbon reached the finalist round in the recent Sir John Sulman Prize 2021 competition at the Art Gallery of NSW.

The Sulman is awarded alongside the Archibald and this year the winning nod went to Georgia Spain, for her work Getting down or falling up.

Windsor artist John Fitzgibbon with his Sulman prize finalist painting at the Art Gallery of NSW. Picture: Supplied

Windsor artist John Fitzgibbon with his Sulman prize finalist painting at the Art Gallery of NSW. Picture: Supplied

The Sulman Prize is awarded to the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist, and judged by a guest artist - this year, Elisabeth Cummings.

Mr Fitzgibbon, from Windsor, has lived in the Hawkesbury his whole life, and his finalist-listed work, Time, and mystery, and memory, an oil on linen painting, was from a series of works begun over a decade ago.

"It's a contemplation of the idea of time, the depth of time - into the past and into the future - and the nature of the mystery of our lives and how it's all tied-up with our memories, personal and cultural," Mr Fitzgibbon told the Gazette.

As one of the 21 finalists, chosen from 546 entries, Time, and mystery, and memory now hangs in the Art Gallery of NSW and will do so until September 26.

Mr Fitzgibbon was inspired by a passage from a Kenneth Slessor poem named 'Five bells':

Where have you gone? The tide is over you,

The turn of midnight water's over you,

As Time is over you, and mystery,

And memory, the flood that does not flow.

John Fitzgibbon's painting 'Time, and mystery, and memory'. Picture: Art Gallery NSW

John Fitzgibbon's painting 'Time, and mystery, and memory'. Picture: Art Gallery NSW

"I've done a lot of figurative work in the past, and a lot of drawing. I've been hung [in the Art Gallery of NSW] in a number of drawing prizes, including the Dobell Prize, but during the last 10 to 15 years I've been drifting more to abstraction," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"I've had a few drawings recognised over the years, but this is the first time I've had a painting hung."

Mr Fitzgibbon produces his work in his home studio and is a member of the Hawkesbury Community Arts Workshop.