Vanessa Stockard was born in 1975 in Sydney and spent her formative years in a small country town in the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. At 12 she returned to Sydney as a boarder at Abbotsleigh. After graduating from the College of Fine Arts (COFA) Sydney in 1998 with a BFA, Stockard launched head first into the avant-garde art scene in the bohemian village
of Glebe.

In 2017 Vanessa Stockard was a first-time Archibald finalist with a self-portrait as a new mother, having recently given birth to her daughter Isobel. In 2018 she is again a finalist in the Archibald prize – but she is a different woman, and this continues to influence her work.

‘I have become assertive as a mother, for I refuse to be under the reign of a toddler without the gift of reason or speech. I have graduated with honours from postnatal depression and I can speak fluent gibberish,’ she says.

‘This year I feel stronger and my portrait looks at the viewer with quiet resilience. There is also a starkness that reflects a new-found respect for what is important and to hell with the rest. My daughter’s effervescent happiness bursts around us like the soap bubbles we blow for her. I have never laughed so much in my life; maybe children’s television and those toys that speak have eroded my intelligence but the experience offers no end of inspiration. I feel this portrait combines the unicorn glitter and lolly-sweet haze I feel as a mother, with a backbone and an ability to say “no”.’