NPG announces 40 portrait finalists
This year over 3,000 entries were received for the Prize, which is judged by National Portrait Gallery Senior Curator, Dr Christopher Chapman, artist and photographer Hoda Afshar and Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia, Anne O'Hehir.
Dayannah, 2018, Raphaela Rosella, Digital print. Dayannah is a proud young Gomeroi/Kamilaroi woman from Moree, New South Wales. Challenging contemporary narratives of victimhood, poverty and oppression, Dayannah is one of several collaborators on my long-term project You’ll Know It When You Feel It. I have spent over a decade creating image-based collaborative works to amplify the lived experiences of women in my life, as they grapple with the complexities and intergenerational cycle of social disadvantage in Australia. Dayannah has a story, a story of pain and triumph, a story that she will share in her own time.
‘The first stage of the judging process resulted in a long list of several hundred possibilities,’ Dr Chapman said. ‘Then the judges spent two days of intensive looking to arrive at the final group of 40 finalist photographs for the exhibition.
‘Entries were received from across Australia and we were impressed with how the strongest photographs show just how unique everyone’s life experience can be."
The Winning and Highly Commended portraits and Art Handlers’ Award will be announced at the launch of the exhibition, with the Winning photographer receiving $30,000 in cash and $22,148 in photographic equipment, including a EOS 1Dx Mark II courtesy of Canon.
The exhibition of the 40 finalist portraits will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery Canberra from 23 February – 7 April 2019 followed by an exhibition tour.
You can see all 40 finalists below.
A calm so deep, 2018, Elizabeth Looker, Digital print. Dorotea asked if she could participate in the photographic study I have been working on for exhibition, The Spirit and the Flesh, capturing the energy and spirit within my subjects. She was so ready to ‘see’ herself, and to show herself to me. Open and honest, adventurous in self-exploration, she was vulnerable with her words and free in her movement.
Support system, 2018, Madeline Bishop, Digital print. Intimacy is often thought of in romantic or familial contexts. This triptych comes from a series considering the relationships that define us outside of these structures. Friendships are distinct from family relationships because there is an assumption that you are choosing one another. Despite this, time has a way of tangling and binding people. In romantic and familial relationships there are often implied or explicit ‘rules’ and expectations. Such clear obligations are harder to find in our friendships. What do we owe each other? And how far are we permitted to burrow into one another’s lives?
Sarker Protick, artist, Sydney, Australia, 2018, Ingvar Kenne, Type C print. Two days after I met and photographed Sarker, he was to fly back to his native Bangladesh, a journey filled with uncertainty. His friend and colleague, photographer and activist Shahidul Alam, had been jailed and tortured only a month earlier, along with hundreds of other people who had openly voiced their dissent towards the government on social media. Sarker, having tried to raise awareness of the situation, had no way of knowing if his own arrival would be a cause of concern. This portrait is part of a series, CITIZEN – ongoing for 25 years thus far – where I have portrayed people with the same taxonomical approach, adhering to strict technical and emotional parameters.
Black dog, 2018, Jamila Toderas, Digital print. I first met former Sex Party candidate Steven Bailey in 2016. He posed with an enormous grin on his face while his treasured female dog, Bruce, mimicked him. Two years on I photographed him again. Steven was one to get caught up in life rather than staying in touch with his emotional state, and he ignored signs of growing mental illness. After losing the election and having his marriage break down, his sense of purpose weakened. Sitting for me, he insists on Bruce being included. The mental health advocate’s smile may be slightly diminished, but the black dog still holds the fort.
Helen Garner in her kitchen, 2018, Mia Mala McDonald, Inkjet print. Australian writer Helen Garner sits on her kitchen bench in front of her favourite tiles.
Ella in Callala Bay, 2018, Aletheia Casey, Inkjet print. My niece Ella at my parents’ house, Callala Bay. This image is an exploration of childhood, and the meaningful relationships we have as children with nature and animals. The photograph is part of a wider series that explores the complexity and duality of family, home and belonging, played out amongst the light and shadows which co-exist within life.
Jackie, 2018, Katrin Koenning, Digital print. Much of my work explores our physical and emotional connection to place, and notions of belonging and dislocation. I often make pictures with the people close to me, like this one of my dear friend and neighbour Jackie. A little earlier this year we were celebrating her 30th birthday; it was an exuberant night full of dancing and cake. My gift to her was making this portrait. Using my camera to witness and hold a significant moment in her journey through time, I wanted to make an intimate and celebratory picture that reflected her spirit of kindness, beauty and strength.
Alex, 2018, Michael Murchie, Digital print. Alex, snapped as the last rays of sunlight were disappearing and an afternoon storm rolled in behind him.
Simon, Docklands, 2018, Alan Weedon, Digital print. Melbourne’s CBD-fringe suburb Docklands reads like an ominous scene from a Hayao Miyazaki film. Its urban form presents a cacophony of mismatched shapes, angles and scales set to a windswept soundscape. Shadows loom, gaps swallow, carparks lie empty – the product of a place that’s had its history bleached in all but name. What results is something surreal: a 21st-century space that mirrors the increasing solitude of our digital lives.
Taking the waters, 2018, Rachel Peachey, Type C print. Jack is playing in the Salzano River near the village of Sottochiesa in northern Italy. We were involved in a mixed art/science residency there, looking at the industrial-scale commercialisation of water. We were particularly interested in the projection of magical properties onto the nearby San Pellegrino spring over the last few hundred years, which allowed a global enterprise to develop. Despite all that context, Jack seemed more effortlessly connected in time and place to the ideas we were interested in, through his natural and unscripted play.
Bum fluff, 2017, Jodi McConaghy, Digital print. This photograph, of Clay McConaghy, is entitled ‘Bum fluff’. I wanted to create a portrait of my fourteen year-old son before he shaved his facial hair for the first time. He is slowly morphing from childhood, through adolescence, and into adulthood. To me, this image captures the last vestiges of Clay’s innocence, his trust in me as a photographer and mother, his youthful face and physique, but also his ever-growing maturity and individuality.
Portrait of Deel, 2018, Stef King, Digital print. Growing up in remote country towns, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I would spend hours creating stories in my head of strong heroines saving the day and following their dreams. When Deel sat in front of my camera she exuded a sense of calm, strength and femininity – everything my heroines growing up would be. I have a passion for shooting strong, inspiring figures in my photography, to conceptualise and create images that celebrate who we are and the beauty that radiates from us all.
Nelson Earl: Dance – the ephemeral art, Strathfield, 2018, Kellie Leczinska, Digital print. Nelson began his career with the Sydney Dance Company as a Pre-Professional Year dancer, in 2015, and has since become a full member of the company. During the shoot Nelson discussed the ephemeral nature of performance – a fleeting look into surrender and absolute resonance between mind, body and the viewer. Dance exists in each split second of the moment and then evaporates; it is the quintessential art. Nelson’s performances have earned rave reviews and he was nominated for Best Male Dancer at the 2018 Helpmann Awards. My portrait reveals the highly disciplined architecture of Nelson’s body and his sensitive gaze.
Stephen Dupont, 2018, Simon Harsent, Digital print. I first met Stephen Dupont eight years ago; I regard him as one of Australia’s finest photographers. I’ve always found Stephen a very humble and passionate person – sometimes aloof, but in an intriguing way. When I saw his one-man show a few years ago, I saw a different side of him, and it gave me some insight, some partial understanding of the complexities of being a war photographer. To me, this portrait sums up the complex intensity of Stephen. Coincidentally, the sitting took place on September 11th this year (2018), a date in history that holds significance for both of us.
Osher, 2018, Stephen Baccon, Digital print. Osher Günsberg, photographed March 2018. His eyes show a sense of vulnerability. Osher definitely connected with me for this portrait shoot; he allowed me into his world. Quite often during a sitting you immediately know when you have the shot. Thank you Osher!
Tristan has a bad heart, 2018, Nicholas Garcia, Digital print. A close friend of mine named Tristan Jewell, photographed with a heart monitor on. He decided to check his heart after dealing with intense heart palpitations for most of his teenage years.
Untitled 11, 2018, Daniel Boetker-Smith, Digital print. This image is from an ongoing series, Connemara. Until I was eleven I lived in a remote part of western Ireland called Connemara, in County Galway. I spent my days wandering endless farmlands and rolling hills. My backyard was the edge of Lough Corrib, Ireland’s largest inland lake. My sons, living in inner city Melbourne, have a very different experience – their playground is concrete and asphalt. The images are based on photographs and memories of my own childhood, and the series documents my children’s everyday experiences playing amongst the factories and warehouses that are their backyard.
Zara, 18, Babinda, FNQ, 2018 Lee Grant, Digital print. I met Zara near Babinda in Far North Queensland. She was travelling with her younger brother, twin sisters, mother and grandparents in an old caravan. Hailing from Tasmania, they had been on the road for fourteen months. Zara was to fly home to Tassie from Cairns a few days after this photo was taken; it would be her first time flying, and, anticipating the experience, she felt both nervous and excited. This portrait is part of an ongoing series titled The Land of Oz.
Troye Sivan, 2018, James Brickwood, Digital print. This is a portrait of 23 year-old South African-born Australian singer Troye Sivan. Perth-raised, Sivan gained popularity as a young teen singing on YouTube and in Australian talent competitions, before signing with a major label in 2013. In the same year, at the age of eighteen, Sivan made a YouTube video announcing that he was gay, determined he would not pursue a career in entertainment while staying in the closet. He is part of a growing group of high-profile younger singers, such as Sam Smith and Frank Ocean, who insist on being open about their sexuality as they make their way in the industry.
Sumbawa pride – life on a boat with eleven kids, 2018, Alex Vaughan, Digital print. Beccie, Steve and their eleven children left rural Tasmania behind to take to the high seas on their thirteen-metre boat and full-time home, Sumbawa. Three day-old baby girl ‘Squeak’ is the first of the siblings to be born on the boat. Here, they take a break from their travels, anchoring off Chinamans Beach in Sydney, Australia in February 2018.
Knox Rocket, 2018, Natalie Nowotarski, Digital print. As the saying goes, ‘Youth is wasted on the young’, yet youth is fleeting. Youth is hard to grasp in this world; kids grow up so fast. They are exposed so young to ideals, things beyond their years. At what age is innocence lost ...
Lost, 2018, Jay Hynes, Digital print. Maria is a proud Italian woman. When her husband passed away, she began dressing in traditional mourning black to honour his memory and symbolise her grief. She still wears it today. Wearing black in mourning is a fading tradition for Italian widows, but it’s a powerful symbol of the dark, empty feelings of loss.
My brother’s family, 2018, Joel Pratley, Digital print. October 22nd, 2018. Warilla, Illawarra, New South Wales. My younger brother Curtis, his partner Broadie, his stepson Hamish and their newborn baby girl, Alliarna. If my younger brother has taught me one lesson so far in life, it is that true happiness is subjective.
Raynen, 2018, Tristan Still, Digital print. Surreptitiously, I walk hallways to each room; I close doors achingly, in a backwards manner becoming apparition. So many of us are encouraged to ‘write ourselves in’, lest we not exist. These days, I’m increasingly returning to moments of holding and witnessing myself, within the realms of the ‘unsaid’, the ‘unseen’, or the ‘unimaginable’. In the privacy of this exchange with myself that does not warrant hearing to be valued, I make some return to not being ‘fully known’. – Raynen Raynen is a gentle person, their manner reserved. They speak with consideration, pausing before each sentence. This image is from my second shoot with Raynen, on the roof of the co-op where they reside.
Abdullah in his room, 2018, Max Mason-Hubers, Digital print. Abdullah Qaiser of Pakistan came to Australia to study, because it is a safe place. Abdullah was bashed and racially abused at university in Australia. He agreed to be photographed in his room, bandages covering the remains of his nose.
Portrait of Whitney, 2018, Jordan Madge, Digital print. Whitney bathing in night light. One month after a voluntary migration to a new country, when the stresses and challenges are beginning to set in and the move is becoming a reality.
Willem 2017 Julian Kingma Type C print To me, this photograph of my son Willem says a lot about his emotions – his anxiety, his artistic dreamings that have forever been evident. Despite his unassured nature, he has always given himself over to me (as his father and photographer); I think he knows it’s important to me. It has always been an unspoken collaboration in many ways. It may never be the perfect image, but at the very least it’s something tangible that reflects a time and place.
KB Bailey, 2018, Isabella Capezio, Inkjet print. KB binds.
Greta in her kitchen, 36 weeks, 2018, Alana Holmberg, Digital print. Pregnancy carried my sister into a new chapter of her life and she welcomed it warmly. Effortlessly. Ready for things to change. We’d spent much of our late twenties debating the ‘right time’, if there was even such a thing, but she’d found it. This portrait is an attempt to depict the tranquillity in Greta’s transition into motherhood, and her trust in the future.
Callan Bradley Hales (left and right view) 2018, Shea Kirk, Digital print. I’ve always been impressed by the passion and energy Callan emits when she performs. Having overlapping friendship circles, it was only a matter of time before our paths crossed. This stereoscopic portrait is part of my project, Vantages. Shooting from dual perspectives simultaneously, I do away with the careful manipulation of what might be deemed the most ‘flattering’ angle when translating reality into a single, flat plane of space. The stereoscopic pairs provide an honest, vulnerable portrayal of the subject, confronting the viewer with an element of voyeurism, witnessing something they may not be privy to.
Morteza Arefifar, Manus Island Detention Centre, 2017, Adam Ferguson, Digital print. Morteza Arefifar, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan suffering from depression brought on by prolonged detention, stands for a portrait at the now-closed Manus Island Detention Centre in Papua New Guinea on 8 November, 2017. The centre had officially closed eight days earlier, on October 31, but a large number of asylum seekers refused to be relocated to new centres on Manus; they remained at the site without power and with inadequate access to water, food and medical treatment. Before its closure, the centre was an Australian Government offshore immigration detention facility, opened as one of the measures to deter irregular migrants from seeking asylum in Australia.
As the world falls down #2, 2018, Lilli Waters, Digital print. Once a year I go up to Billinudgel in New South Wales to see my therapist. She believes that good therapy is based on a relationship – not like where you sit across from someone on a chair, but one where you go for walks and swims together. I stayed on her property recently and photographed a series of her daughter Maya and her boyfriend at Protesters Falls. I wanted to communicate something about youth, beginnings and freedom, that time between late adolescence and adulthood thxat is filled with possibility, but anxiety too.
Mirror identical twins with autism, 2018, Sarah Rhodes, Gelatin silver print. Liam and Rohan, aged eighteen, are mirror identical twins with severe autism. One is left-handed, the other right-handed. One is high functioning; the other is lower functioning. They are both socially isolated, but because they are twins they have each other. I made this image as a double exposure to represent the boys’ identicalness, but also to offer an insight into their minds, particularly their anxiety. The background of the image seeps through, suggesting these two boys could be the same person – different sides of the one self, one wearing black, the other wearing white.
Adam, Craigieburn, 2018, Yask Desai, Digital print. This work is from an ongoing project that I am making in the suburb of Craigieburn in Melbourne’s outer north. I met Adam one Thursday in May near the park off Bridgewater Road. Since then I have photographed him every week. He wants to be a voice-over artist; he once did an impression of Iago the parrot from Aladdin in an interview with his job placement agency. I gave him a voice recorder, and sometimes we record his voice impressions. He is my lone companion from the suburb after nine months of photographing there. Next month we plan to see a fantasy movie at the local Multiplex – he has never enjoyed watching films alone.
That’s not my mother, 2018, Rosa Spring Voss, Gelatin silver print. I didn’t realise until two months ago that my mother, Victoria Spring, is my Mona Lisa. As a successful designer and a charismatic personality, people are constantly gravitating towards her, but, like da Vinci’s masterpiece, greater complexities rest beneath. As a child, all I could see was my caretaker; however, as I became an adult myself, it was a great shock to realise that my mother had flaws. Why must so many women only wear this one hat? This photograph is a celebration of uncompromising strength and love for an exceptional human being, who also happens to be my mother.
Celia inside a watchtower, 2018, Wouter Van de Voord, Gelatin silver print. I made this photograph during my most recent visit to my home country, Belgium. On a nightly walk through the countryside, my wife Celia Hindmarsh discovered this watchtower and ascended to look out over the cornfields.
Portrait of Tracey Briggs, 2018, Rod McNicol, Digital print. Tracey, a dear friend of mine, is an Aboriginal woman with a background from both the Yorta Yorta people from the Shepparton area, and the Gunditjmara mob down Warnambool way. For years now, though, Tracey has been part of the local mob here in Fitzroy. I, too, am a long-term local of Fitzroy, having lived and worked in an old warehouse studio here on the infamous Smith Street for decades now. Smith Street is also where the local mob has always congregated; I have become very close to them over the years, forming a particularly close and enduring friendship with Tracey.
Unbreakable, 2018, Dave Laslett, Digital print. Valerie was taken from her family in Maree, along with her sisters, and subsequently placed in the Umeewarra Mission. A proud Wangkangurru/Lower Southern Arrernte woman, she put Native Title meetings before her health, travelling across the vast country of South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to attend them. She was proud when, on the 3rd of October 2014, the Wangkangurru Native Title claim received a Consent Determination ruling, returning rights to 79,600 square kilometres of land to the original people of this country. In the face of advanced cancer, Valerie stands strong and proud, knowing she has lived a life of meaning.
The textiles scientist, 2018, Kate Atkinson, Digital print. Ruth Baig was one of two females doing a science degree at Manchester University. In her thirties she travelled solo around India; she wept when she saw the Taj Mahal. The image is part of my ongoing project – The 8 x 10’s portrait series – which is about conversations, connections and stories. It explores the importance of relationships, and how vital they are to human happiness and existence. In our society, the elderly become seemingly invisible, but within these people are histories – exciting, incredible, rich lives … if only we take the time to ask.