Pauline Hanson the prime subject at the 2017 Bald Archy Prize

Pauline Hanson the prime subject at the 2017 Bald Archy Prize

You needn't look further than the finalists in satirical portrait competition the Bald Archy Prize each year to pinpoint the Australian politician who caused the biggest stir and ruffled the most feathers.

This time around, it's Pauline Hanson.

Some of the artworks in the 2017 Bald Archy Prize exhibition at the Watson Arts Centre.

Some of the artworks in the 2017 Bald Archy Prize exhibition at the Watson Arts Centre.Credit:Jay Cronan

"Always each year we can usually predict who the most popular [personality's] going to be. We've had Tony Abbott, Jacqui Lambie, and Clive Palmer," said Bald Archy's founder Peter Batey.

"Years ago when Pauline Hanson first emerged we had something like 27 Pauline Hansons entered. She's the prime one this year again."

Founding creator of the Bald Archy Prize, Peter Batey.

Founding creator of the Bald Archy Prize, Peter Batey.Credit:Jay Cronan

So much is her popularity amongst artists, there's a whole corner dedicated to portraits of Hanson at The Bald Archy's 2017 exhibition, which kicks off its tour in Canberra this week.

The portraits show off various tongue-in-cheek sides to Hanson, from her giving the middle finger outside Parliament House, to her seductively offering Donald Trump a Tic Tac.

It's the 24th year for the art prize, the satirical alternative to its near namesake the Archibald Prize. Founded by Batey back in 1994, the competition accepts comic or satirical portraits of distinguished Australians in art, science, letters, politics, sport and the media.

The majority of the artworks in 2017 portray politicians, including Julie Bishop sipping champagne on a polo horse, a naked Bill Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull in various scenarios and Barnaby Joyce with the shadows of Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo in his eyes.

There's also a large selection of personalities not related to political life, from the many faces of Magda Szubanski, Formula One drives Daniel Riccardo drinking a shoey, and a striking portrait of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, using his claws to snack on popcorn.

This year also attracted a few individual Donald Trump portraits, but Batey said they were rejected as they don't fit the Australian theme.

As always, the winning entry will be selected by Batey's sulphur-crested cockatoo named Maude, who claims she is as qualified as any other judge in the land.

"She's in touch because where her aviary is she can see right into my main room and the television, so she's up to date with everything on the news," said Batey.

"So what happens is she sees on her laptop the images, and says, 'no, no, no, oh I like that one, I like that one'. There's six on the shortlist, and then she makes her announcement.

The exhibition's tour starts in the home of politics every year - Batey calls Canberra the, 'semi home of the Bald Archy's'. And while their faces may adorn the walls, Batey said the politicians themselves don't go to the exhibition.

"They send their secretaries with a phone," he said.

"We have signs up saying no photos but they secretly send their secretaries."

The exhibition is on at Watson Arts Centre from February 10-March 13, and will then go on tour to nine other venues across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, before the winner is announced July.

Jil Hogan is an food and lifestyle reporter at The Canberra Times.

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