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Missy Higgins’ Archibald Nod A Family Affair

The | May 31, 2024

A stunning portrait of Missy Higgins, painted by her sister Nicola Higgins, was submitted for the annual 2024 edition of the Archibald Prize

One of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious awards, the Archibald Prize is dedicated to recognizing the art of portraiture.

The portraits submitted usually feature some of the biggest names in music, drama, science, or politics. Last year’s Archibald winner was Julia Gutman, who won with a piece titled Head in the sky, feet on the ground depicting singer-songwriter Montaigne

The oil on canvas portrait by Nicola Higgins depicts the Scar singer lying on a shaggy Aztec rug surrounded by potted monstera and sunflower plants, brandishing a ukulele while gazing off into the distance.

The piece, appropriately titled Missy with her Ukelele, can be found in the 2024 archive on the Archibald website. You can also view it via Missy Higgins’ Instagram account below.

For oil painter Nicola Higgins, the decision to use Missy as her muse was a natural decision.

“Missy was the obvious choice for the sitter as we are very close. I flew to Melbourne to paint her while she was recording her new album in her home studio,” the Bondi-based artist said in her submission.

“While I gathered some of the many plants in her home and set up, I could hear her singing in the next room. She was writing a new song and working it out at the piano. When she emerged from the studio, I got her to lie down and started sketching. I could tell she was still thinking about the new song. She spotted her ukulele nearby, picked it up and started singing to it. It was perfect!”

The album referred to in this submission is Missy Higgins’ upcoming work, Second Act, which was announced online last month. The singer-songwriter recently released the titular single to the album via streaming services. The album is set for release on September 6th, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of her iconic album The Sound Of White.

Nicola Higgins continued: “I wanted to capture her in a creative mode, and it just happened naturally. Missy really lives and breathes music. In the painting, she is in her own little world, completely absorbed in writing a song.”

Missy shared an image of the painting on social media, writing: “My incredible sister has painted me for the Archibald and has just been nominated as a finalist!! So happy for her. Painting is her passion and has been since we were little kids. I think she captured me laying about with my ukulele so perfectly. That expression on my face is “trying to figure out the right lyrics for a song I’m currently stuck on” and she captured it perfectly. Love you sis”.

While Nicola scored the title of finalist for her work, the 2024 Archibald Prize was awarded to Victorian street artist Matt Adnate for his piece of Yolngu musician and dancer Baker Boy, yet again seeing Australian musicians take the cake as our favourite muses. Adnate and Baker Boy have been longtime collaborators, with the street artist creating the album art for Baker Boy’s debut album Gela. 

“It’s always an honour to be painted by such an incredible artist who’s able to capture different versions of me and this latest artwork is no different,” Baker Boy said in an interview. 

Other Australian musicians featured as models in this year’s curation of Archibald pieces included Royel Maddell from Royel Otis, painted by his brother Louis Bressington, and blue Wiggle Anthony Field, painted by Camellia Morris

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