“It was such an unexpected joy!” recalls Del Kathryn Barton of being presented with the 2010 Women of Style Arts & Culture award. “I remember I had bought these crazy Dries Van Noten high heels for the event and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it up the stairs onto the stage!” The artist, who won the 2008 Archibald Prize for a self-portrait with her two children, did make it up those stairs, and has continued to navigate stellar success in the eight years that have followed.
Since she took home the illustrious portrait prize for a second time in 2013—a huge coup for any artist—the 45-year-old’s career highlights have now extended to presenting at the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, and a major solo exhibition, The Highway is a Disco, which opened at The National Gallery of Victoria last year. Included among the 300-piece-plus body of work was a poignant sculpture dedicated to one of Barton’s biggest champions: her late mother, Karen. “[She] gave me so much courage to pursue my dreams, and I miss her more than words can say,” she reveals.
Always following her own path, Barton eschews the political manoeuvring associated with the “incredibly tough and idiosyncratic” art community and instead spends her time exploring other creative outlets. She became a hit in fashion circles after her 2008 collaboration with Romance Was Born—a synergistic partnership that Barton and the local label continue to revisit. The multimedia maven is also making her impact on the world of film, following her 2015 joint-directorial debut, The Nightingale and the Rose, which won an AACTA Award for Best Short Animation. Her second short film Red, starring Cate Blanchett, came out last year, and she reveals that feature films are her next frontier. It’s important to celebrate female accomplishments because... “The future is WOMEN.”
The ultimate women of style... “I bow down to so many sisters! I would like to list 100 names but will limit it to five: Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Isabelle Huppert, Anna Plunkett and Esther the Wonder Pig (those bonnets are off the chart). They all rock their individuality with power and creativity. Boom!”