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As a child, Archibald Prize winner Craig Ruddy would wake from his dreams to see the profiles of unfamiliar faces in the shadows of his darkened bedroom. Ruddy, then seven years old and chronically ill with a rare lung disease, kept company with the elusive images, drawing them late into the night.
By the age of 16, Ruddy’s gift for capturing that intangible essence and energy in his subjects inspired him to pursue a life in art. One of the youngest students to be accepted into Sydney’s Randwick Design College, Ruddy went on to study design and fashion illustration.
He worked as an art director and designer for advertising and marketing agencies and later as a set designer creating events for major Australian corporations.
Despite his successful and lucrative career, Ruddy’s passion for painting prompted him to break away and start his life as an artist in earnest, crediting his practice of Qi Gong and Vipassana meditation for giving him the strength and courage to make a go of it.
But it was never going to be an easy road. Needing to make a living, Ruddy turned to landscape gardening, using his every spare moment to paint.
It was then, in early 2004, that Ruddy was inspired to paint the portrait of Aboriginal acting legend David Gulpilil. Ruddy’s decision to enter the portrait, titled ‘Two Worlds’, in the 2004 Archibald Prize was a decision that would prove to be a major turning point in his career and would catapult him into the international art scene.
He not only won Australia’s most prestigious art prize but also picked up the People’s Choice Award in both Sydney and Melbourne.
The arresting portrait continues to attract worldwide media attention.
His reaction to the fame and notoriety that came his way after winning the Archibald prize was encapsulated in ‘Poppy Seeds’, a series of emotive portraits, nudes and self studies that was successfully exhibited in November 2004. The series addressed the Tall Poppy Syndrome that often accompanies success.
He has been short listed for the 2006 Archibald Prize for a diptych, which maps his struggle with the highs and lows of what happens when dreams become reality.
Craig travelled for several years between Europe and Argentina and in 2015 moved back to Australia to build a studio in the Byron Hinterland nestled in the hilltops and surrounded by bush land where he feels most at home and inspired.
These days, Ruddy spends all of his time in his studio, now surrounded by the real life beauty of the faces which at one time came only to him in the solitude of his empty room.
His latest series of limited edition artworks are full of colour yet have Craig’s distinctive ethereal, dreamlike quality. The colour could easily be the early morning light that wakes us from a dream or the sunset hues and colours that bounce off multiple surfaces. The six new limited edition artworks are titled Sunshine, Moonlight, The birth within, Resiliance, Fruit dove and Self portrait. They take us on a journey throughout a day and parts of life. They were part of his solo exhibition at the Open Studio/Pop Up Gallery on Oxford Street Paddington, Sydney.
2014 Melbourne Art Fair – Gallery One
2013 New works – Gallery One, Queensland
2013 New works – Richard Martin, Sydney
2012 New works – Gallery One, Queensland
2012 Melbourne Art Fair – 1st to 5th August Body of work: “…and they have escaped the weight of darkness”.
2011 Imago II”, Richard Martin Art, Sydney One Egg, One World” Charity Event, Melbourne
2010 “Summer Exhibition”, Richard Martin Art, Sydney Exhibition “Imago I”, Gallery One, Qld Archibald Prize AGNSW, Sydney
2010 Group Exhibition – “Matt, Dive, Gold” Smith & Hall Gallery, Sydney
2009 Solo Exhibition – ‘Levitação/Levitation’ Richard Martin Art, Sydney
2008 Solo Exhibition – ‘New Works’ Richard Martin Art, Sydney
2007 Solo Exhibition – ‘Polar’, Richard Martin Art, Sydney
2006 Solo Exhibition – ‘Remnants of an Urban Landscape’ Richard Martin Art, Sydney
2006 Art Sydney 06 – Featured artist Richard Martin Art, Sydney
2006 Archibald Prize – AGNSW, Sydney
2006 Solo Exhibition – London UK
2004 Archibald Prize – AGNSW, Sydney
2004 Solo exhibition – Graphis Art Gallery, Sydney
2004 Group exhibition – Salon des Refusés, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
2003 Solo exhibition – Graphis Art Gallery, Sydney
2002 Solo exhibition – Sydney Fringe Festival
AWARDS AND PRIZES
2011 Finalist – Archibald Prize AGNSW – Portrait of Cathy Freeman
2010 Winner, The People’s Choice – Archibald Prize AGNSW – “Prince of Darkness” Portrait of Warwick Thornton
2010 Finalist – Archibald Prize AGNSW – “Prince of Darkness” Portrait of Warwick Thornton
2006 Finalist – Archibald Prize AGNSW – Self Portrait
2004 Winner – Archibald Prize AGNSW – “Two Worlds” Portrait of David Gulpilil
2004 Winner – People’s Choice (Archibald Prize) Melbourne – “Two Worlds” Portrait of David Gulpilil
2004 Winner – People’s Choice (Archibald Prize) AGNSW – “Two Worlds” Portrait of David Gulpilil
2003 Finalist – Salon des Refusés, S.H. Ervin Gallery – Self Portrait