Sydney artist Sally Robinson has won the 2016 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award with an acrylic on canvas of Ella Rubeli, a double Walkely Award winning photo journalist, a filmmaker, artist and writer.
Judge Dr Christopher Chapman, senior curator at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra , announced the winner at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery on Friday, June 17, to a packed audience.
He said had been moved by the “openness” of Ms Robinson’s portrait which showed the softness of the subject but also the strength.
Earlier in the week the award was also selected for the “mailroom” prize, selected by Bega Valley Shire Council staff who received the entries.
Dr Chapman said he was very impressed by the high standard of the entries which showed diverse approaches to portraiture realism in techniques that were very different.
So impressed was he by the entries that he was moved to make two Highly Commended awards, which has rarely been seen in the Shirley Hannan before.
One of the awards went to a local, Matt Chun of Bermagui, for his pencil and acrylic work on plywood.
His portrait is of well-known Australian author, art historian and former director of the National Portrait Gallery, the late Andrew Sayers, whom Mr Chun described was an artistic and intellectual mentor and friend.
Dr Chapman said the portrait had an economy of line and skill that conveyed the psychological depth of the subject.
The other highly commended award was made to Michael Zavros for his oil on aluminium portrait of his daughter Phoebe wearing an outside T-shirt bearing the face of singer Madonna, titled ‘Madonna & Child’.
Dr Chapman was taken by the play on words and how it was about changing interactions.
In welcome to the hundreds of art lovers who attended the Shirley Hannan exhibition opening, mayor Michael Britten said arts and culture hold an important role in council’s commitment to liveability within the Bega Valley Shire.
He paid tribute the generosity of the late Shirley Hannan and of her son Peter Hannan in sponsoring the award as well as its “little sister”, The Shirl National Youth Portrait Prize, the only national portraiture award for young emerging artists, 16 – 25 years olds.