Vanessa Stockard’s work is powerful. If you look into the eyes of her ‘Self-portrait as new mum’ which is hanging in the Archibald Prize this year you’ll probably see something different to the person standing next to you.

Her expert use of colour and mixture of some looser and other more deliberate marks makes it one of those beguiling paintings where the expression is so subtle that it’s open to multiple interpretations.

She’s been painting for over 20 years, had over 15 solo shows in Australia and the US and has been in many more group exhibitions, but this year Stockard has really stepped it up a gear with her selection as a finalist in both the Archibald Prize and the Portia Geach Memorial Award.

She lives in Bowral in the southern highlands of NSW with her husband and 18 month old daughter in the beautiful and fabulously eclectic home her husband William Wolfenden designed and built. The plans included a roomy studio where she spends as much time as she can, constantly exploring new ideas.

In this episode, we talk about what it’s been like being a parent for the first time, why she forced herself to do dozens of self portraits, life at boarding school and why humour is so important in her life.  We also talk about Instagram, taking risks and her fascinating Derek Milkwood series – all with a good dose of humour.

She’s vivacious, funny and incredibly talented  –  don’t miss this interview!

See a short video of Stockard taken on the day of the interview on the Talking with Painters Youtube channel here

Current events

Links to things and people we talk about in the show


‘Self-portrait as new mum’, 2017, acrylic on wood panel, 50 x 50cm (finalist Archibald Prize)

Recent self-portraits, 2017

‘Yellow rose’

‘Austin Rose’

Stockard’s recent portrait of daughter Isobel

‘Sound Awake’, 2017, 60 x 60cm, acrylic on wood panel

‘Murchison Party Nightmare’, 2017, acrylic on wood panel, 50 x 45cm  (mentioned in the podcast at 33m45s)

From the Derek Milkwood series (mentioned in the podcast at 36m 50s)

Self portrait – finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Award 2017