Julius Killerby is one of the youngest Archibald Prize finalists in recent history. This year, he narrowly missed out on being awarded the top prize, and title of the youngest ever artist to win. Impressive to say the least, this all happened before Julius even had a chance to graduate.
When the third-year student asked former Essendon Football Club Chairman Paul Little to sit for a portrait, he did not expect to become a finalist in Australia’s most popular portraiture competition. “I sort of used the Archibald as an excuse to approach Little so I could paint his portrait,” said Killerby, who is currently working towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting). “I’m pretty surprised to find out it has made it into the finals – even though, of course, I was secretly hoping it would get picked.”
Killerby’s work was judged alongside 43 finalists, including Fine Art alumnae Prudence Flint, Yvette Coppersmith, Sophia Hewson and Kate Beynon, former Art staffer from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, Jon Campbell, and current staff member Richard Lewer.
Killerby described making it to the finals of the competition as a validating experience. His oil painting casts Little in shadows against a black background – indicative, possibly, of the dark times he led the Essendon Football Club through in recent years.
Julius Killerby, Paul Little (2017). Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Acting Head of Art at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, Dr Kate Daw said she was delighted by Killerby’s inclusion in the prestigious competition. “Julius has been diligently working on this portrait of Paul Little for a number of weeks,” she said. “He is such a generous and hardworking student, and has committed to making some serious gains in his work this year.”
Killerby’s art practice involves spending six to eight hours in the studio every day. “You can’t be an artist casually,” he told us, likening the creation of a painting to a “slow battle”. He spent over 100 hours working on the oil painting in his studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.
“I was just exceedingly happy to paint Little’s portrait regardless of the prize itself and really enjoyed the process,” he said. “Becoming a finalist was just the cherry on the cake.”