Andrew Sibley (1933 – 2015)
Painter and teacher, arrived in Australia from England in 1948, having studied at the Gravesend School of Art. Associated with Jon Molvig in Brisbane from 1958 to 1963, he moved to Melbourne in 1966 and held annual exhibitions there from 1959 to 1993. From 1966 to 1990 he was lecturer in Fine Arts at RMIT and has recently been Head of Painting in the Monash University Faculty of Art and Design. He is represented in most major Australian galleries, has entered portraits of Jon Molvig, Mirka Mora and Alan McCulloch in the Archibald competition and was a finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 1994 and 1996. Sibley is the subject of a 1993 monograph by Sasha Grishin.
During the 1950s, artist Andrew Sibley was surviving on free meat pies and smoking cigarette butts found in the street.
He also was living in a room so tiny that the bed had to be dismantled each morning so he could paint. Furthermore, he was so unsure of his talent that he would leave a painting in a public place to test if it was worth stealing; if it was taken, it meant someone had liked it.
In 1962 all that changed when Sibley won Australia’s richest art award, the £1000 Transfield Art Prize, and became hot property. His exhibitions attracted visitors and critical acclaim, his work was bought by state galleries and private collectors, and he was regularly hung in the Archibald, Wynne and Blake prizes. The night he won the Transfield, he was signed up as a member of Sydney’s Rudy Komon Art Gallery, which at the time claimed to have the country’s best stable of contemporary artists. The press promoted him, with magazines such as Vogue comparing him to a French film star.
Andrew Sibley’s painting, The Lovers, was a finalist in the 1963 Sulman Prize.