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Alicia and The Archibald

Josephine Walsh


For me, when I hear the phrase ‘The Archibald’, it’s synonymous with portraiture, prestige and outstanding artists.

The annual Art Gallery of New South Wales Archibald Prize is highly anticipated by those in the art world, but is also celebrated and eagerly awaited by the Australian public.

When I see the portrait created by Canberra-based artist Alicia Mozqueira, I am awestruck.


Doug Hall, oil on clay board, 91 x 61cm, 2015

“I strive to make paintings of substance which people connect with, whether that’s in an expression of joy, a search for comfort or to find understanding in beauty,” 23 year old artist Alicia tells me. “As a result I find two genres, landscape painting and portraiture to be subjects of enduring interest.”

Alicia’s portrait ‘Doug Hall’ made the cut of the 47 artworks shortlisted for the 2015 Archibald Prize. “When I found out that I had been shortlisted, I was absolutely overjoyed!” says Alicia. “It’s been wonderful to meet so many likeminded people and share the experience with them, as well as to be part of a band of younger artists in the prize.”

I’m struck by the depth of expression, maturity and perceptive detail in her portrait of Doug Hall AM, the associate professor and honorary principal fellow of the School of Culture and Communications, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Melbourne.

Hall has served as the Director for the Queensland Art Gallery | GOMA, was the Australian commissioner for the Venice Biennale in 2009 and 2011, and is a widely published writer and critic. He has a book and film to be published and released in 2016.

“I was glad about Doug’s response to his portrait,” Alicia says. “He described it as ‘terrific, gnarled and brooding and without a skerrick of timidness’”.

As I explore Alicia’s work online, I’m excited and inspired that Canberra is home to such a promising young artist. Alicia graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Art from the Australian National University in 2013. In 2012, she was the youngest finalist in the history of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Wynne Prize, and was also a finalist in the National Portrait Gallery’s 2010 Headspace 10: Self/reflections exhibition.

Ned Bott, oil on paper, 57 x 37cm, 2014

Ned Bott, oil on paper, 57 x 37cm, 2014

Alicia is also adept at portraying landscapes in stunning detail. These works pay a moody homage to the natural beauty of Canberra and its surrounds. “I’ve found it to be a really wonderful place to base myself,” Alicia explains. “Nestled among the mountains, the air is clean, the light clear – it’s possible to feel connected to nature while living in a capital city surrounded by bushlands and rivers.”


Untitled 02, gouache on paper, 17 x 13cm, 2015

Alongside its natural beauty, Canberra has access to “brilliant national institutions, a strong sense of community and rich cultural environment,” all of which inspire Alicia.

I ask if Alicia has any advice to share with young people who are passionate about becoming an artist? “The integrity of your vision and expression is essential,” she tells me. “Stay receptive to the beautiful and sincere. Work hard!”

You can see Alicia’s upcoming exhibition ‘Small Works’ at the Beaver Galleries in Canberra from 3-24 December. Her current exhibition ‘Illuminations’ is currently showing at the Gallerysmith Project Space in Melbourne until 12 September.

Stay up to date with Alicia’s current projects via her Facebook page, or check out her website www.aliciamozqueira.com


Feature Image: Chelsea Lemon, oil on paper, 56 x 43cm 2013


Josephine Walsh

Jose Walsh is a digital communications specialist who also runs her own blog, mapleandmabel.com. She has a passion for museums and the arts, a deep love of travel and more shoes than sense. Having worked in museums for the past seven years, she loves finding new ways to connect people with their cultural institutions. She loves meeting new people, hunting for a decent espresso, and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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