Leading contemporary Australian artist Shaun Gladwell is the 2014 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award winner.
Judge Sarah Engledow selected the portrait, a diptych of Aboriginal actor Meyne Wyatt, as a Black Digger, as the winning entry of the $50,000 prize, at the opening of the exhibition at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery on Friday, May 31.
Dr Engledow, the historian at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, said the portrait was “the one that sustained my interest, aesthetically and sympathetically” in a rich field of finalists.
“I was moved by the restraint of the work, its gentleness, and the effect of its miniscule differences.
She was also impressed that three local artists were among the 35 finalists from almost 200 entries.
Gallery curator Iain Dawson said the Shirley Hannan Portrait Award had now become one of the most important and coveted art awards in the country.
“Shaun Gladwell is one of the country’s most important contemporary artists who represented Australia at the Venice Biennial and was the official Australian war artist in Afghanistan.
“To have artists of such high calibre participating in the Shirley Hannan Portrait Award raises the profile of the Bega Valley Regional Gallery to a new level,” he said.
The Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award finalists’ exhibition will continue until 5 July in the Bega Valley Regional Gallery. The gallery will extend its opening hours on the two Fridays, June 6 and 20, to 6pm with a program of events working with the Festival of the Face, and on Saturdays extended hours from 9am to 2pm for the length of show.
A “people’s choice” award of $3000 will be announced at the conclusion of the exhibition.