Bibbenluke artist’s Archibald finalist on show in Bega

Bega Valley regional gallery director Iain Dawson.

Bega Valley regional gallery director Iain Dawson.

Australia’s most famous art prize is set to go on display in Bega.

Last year’s 51 Archibald Prize finalists will be exhibited at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery on March 24, making it one of just six galleries outside Sydney to play host to the Art Gallery of NSW touring exhibition.

Opening the exhibition will be Bibbenluke based figurative expressionist painter Lucy Culliton, a 2016 finalist in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes – or the “trifecta” as she described it.

“It’s fantastic to be hung in the gallery,” the 50-year-old said this week.

“I felt really proud of my work.”

The closure of the Hughes Gallery in Surry Hills allowed Ms Culliton time to focus on the 2016 prize, and meticulously plan her approach.

Lucy Culliton's 2016 Archibald entry Lucy and fans.

Lucy Culliton's 2016 Archibald entry Lucy and fans.

“I wanted to make an impact so I put time in and it paid off,” she said.

“The gallery closure made me more competitive, because before I wasn’t painting for prizes I was painting for exhibitions.”

She said the prize is held in high regard due to the numbers it draws to see it each year, creating a wider audience for the artists.

“As an artist you don’t normally have access to the public at large,” she said.

Her move to southern NSW a decade ago was largely due to escaping her space in Surry Hills, which had become a popular social meeting point for mothers with young children.

The Monaro became close to her heart after spending a year at Ando Public School as an eight-year-old.

“I love the country, the space, the gardening, the animals,” she said.