Winning her age category in Sydney Catholic Schools’ inaugural Portrait Prize was just the beginning for Tatum O’Connor.

The Mount St Joseph Milperra student’s portrait of her niece is now a finalist in the Young Archie competition, run by the Art Gallery of NSW. 

Winners will be announced this Saturday, 18 June.

Young Archie finalist Tatum O'Connor

Tatum said she was elated to see her work on display at the Art Gallery of NSW. 

“I have no words to even begin to describe my excitement and joy at being a finalist,” she said.

Chosen from a field of more than 2,400 entries her gouache portrait, titled Feeling Blue, took 20 hours to complete.

“Art showcases messages, symbols, thoughts, and ideas that words can’t convey . . . I find that extremely powerful”  – Tatum O’Connor

“I’ve been creating artworks for as long as I can remember with persistent encouragement from my family, teachers and peers,” Tatum said.

“Art allows me to express myself in a way no other hobby would.”

It seems third time’s the charm for Tatum, who has entered the Young Archie competition three years running.

“I admittedly lost a bit of hope of one of my portraits getting recognised, but winning the Sydney Catholic Schools Portrait Prize gave me motivation and hope,” she said.

“My niece is a bit too young to understand this milestone. I’ll give it to her someday and she’ll finally realise the impact this portrait and her existence have had on my life.”


Beginning in 2013, the annual Young Archie competition is open to students aged 5 to 18 years across four age categories.

The prize is judged by the Gallery of NSW’s family programs manager and a guest judge, based on merit and originality.

The finalists’ works are displayed online and at the Art Gallery of NSW, alongside the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition.