Sons of Deb Rielly, Dylan and Ben, attended the opening night of the Archies Bald Portrait Prize where Dylan spoke in honour of his mum. N342219

THE opening night of the inaugural Archies Bald Portrait Prize was held on Friday evening and the committee greeted hundreds of guests through the doors of the Archies Creek Hall in commemoration of those living with baldness.
Folks travelled from near and far to see the fearless art of a hairless head and all donations from the weekend went to the Cancer Council of Victoria.
The renowned Tony Hanning, an internationally recognised artist, judged the event on opening night.
His first words reflected the fine art of which was astounding to see.
“In honesty, I initially thought this event was going to be a bit of a laugh, but the artist’s work here tonight is some of the best I have ever come across,” said Mr Hanning.
Tony expressed his recognition of the fine art that was displayed from beginners to well-known artists of the evening.
He too extended his recognition to the young artists, including those as young as 11, that acquired time to create a portrait of someone special.
Tony presented three awards in his opening speech to ‘Young Achievers, awarding each of them with a signed certificate and $50 in prize money.
“I am blown away, I have never in my time been to an exhibition imbued with as much love as this; there is serious art here above my expectation,” said Mr Hanning.
The art signified a journey of hair loss, not only through the journey of cancer treatment but also sharing the experience of living with alopecia areata.
Guest speaker Vesna Devcic from the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation and Andrea Jordan from the Cancer Council both spoke of the vulnerability of hair loss and commended the committee for celebrating baldness, because it’s beautiful, raw and because those affected can be initially defenceless to their appearance.
“Vesna has lived with alopecia for 34 years and embraces her life without hair.
“She spoke to create awareness of the foundation to help those feeling unattractive or questioning their sense of worth and the journey of having an acceptance of self.”
The Archies Creek Hall committee decided to host the event as a special exhibition for artists to exhibit their raw, compassionate feelings of a friend living through the emotional turmoil of cancer, the loss of a loved one or their own life being taken over by the routine of chemotherapy.
Artist Caroline Henry documented a moment of her own life through a self-portrait, named ‘Me, Myself and Zen’ – exposing her own journey of chemotherapy and how it changed her appearance.
All pieces of art from an oil canvas, a stoneware sculpture to clay and metal, they were powerful in their own manner, seeming raw and effortless.
Dylan Rielly spoke on behalf of his brother Ben and his grandmother Barbara in honour of his mum, Deb, and her journey with cancer.
He thanked all of those in attendance and recognised the artwork display that reflected so many raw stories.
Dylan’s tribute to his mother was brave as he played a video and song of which she wrote named ‘Come to me the sea’ with lyrics “the essence of the ocean, hold me in your arms and don’t cry for me’.
The event was accurately exposing the beauty of a bald head, and the committee commended all those involved with the portrait prize and each artist who unveiled their pieces – some for the first time.
Congratulations to all artists that entered.

First prize 2D: Malcolm Crichton Bain by Phil Henshall, sponsored by LJ Hooker.
First prize 3D: Twice Fired Head by Ray Dahlstrom, sponsored by Watersure.
Second prize 2D: Sam by Janice Orchard, sponsored by Williams & Burns.
Second prize 3D: Archie Roach by Pat Wishart, sponsored by Adverto.
Third prize 2D: Sadly, Defiant by Matt Stone, sponsored by Kathy West.
Third prize 3D: Sharmanic Figure by Meg Viney, sponsored by Adapt Design Group.
People’s choice 2D: Monkey in Repose by Shane Collier, sponsored by Kip McGrath.
People’s choice 3D: Embracing Diversity by Matt Stone, sponsored by Kip McGrath.