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National Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 winner announced

23 March 2018

Charlie, 2017 by Lee Grant
Charlie, 2017 by Lee Grant

Finalists have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Winner and Highly Commended for the National Photographic Portrait Prize since December. It is our pleasure to announce the Winner for 2018 is Lee Grant for her portrait titled Charlie and Highly Commended has been awarded to Filomena Rizzo for her portrait titled My Olivia. Dr Christopher Chapman, Senior Curator at the Portrait Gallery and co-judge of this year’s Prize says it was the power of humanness that shone through in the two award-winning portraits.

‘It’s a big deal to make it through to the final exhibition selection and with my fellow judges Petrina Hicks and Robert Cook, I was looking closely at how the portraits spoke to me, how they conveyed their story uniquely,’ said Dr Chapman.

‘As the possible winners came into view from within a very strong field, it felt like we were distilling something of the essence of portraiture, and the winning portraits possessed that essence for us.’

Co-judge and photographer Ms Petrina Hicks added ‘it felt as though the distilling process was to extract truth – that we narrowed down the images that felt true.’

Co-judge and Curator at the Art Gallery of Western Australia Mr Robert Cook appreciated that both works depict a young individual making their own way in their lives and into the wider world.

‘It’s like both subjects are facing futures that are uncertain. And they’re doing so bravely. It’s the bravery that you have when you’re afraid, when you yourself might crumble and you figure there’s only a fifty-fifty shot at making it through. What the artists have done here is present this dilemma, one we all get on some level, with compassion, without artifice and without false heroics,’ said Mr Cook.

Ms Grant was both thrilled and honoured to be named the Winner of this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize.

‘I can’t quite put into words how grateful I am. I have been a Canberra girl for most of my life, so there is an extra personal significance in being able to share this work in my old hometown in one of the country’s most esteemed and respected institutions,’ said Ms Grant. ‘An acknowledgement like this is massive and will encourage me to keep going and to keep sharing stories that are important to me and that I believe deserve to be in the national conversation.’

Ms Grant will receive $30,000 cash from the Portrait Gallery, lighting equipment from Profoto to the value of $15,000 and paper supplies from Ilford to the value of $5,000.

The Portrait Gallery has awarded the prize for Highly Commended to Victorian photographer Filomena Rizzo for her portrait titled My Olivia.

‘The portrait of Olivia was taken in the Redwood Forest, a very magical place. I didn’t see the real significance of the image until some weeks later. The image shows vulnerability and sadness, but mostly I see strength and a bond only we two share. My girls are by far my greatest teachers,’ said Ms Rizzo.

‘The portrait has come from a very personal space and time. When you put so much into an image and share it, it is wonderful that others see it. I am truly humbled and grateful to have won Highly Commended.’

Ms Rizzo will receive an EIZO monitor valued up to $4,000, courtesy of EIZO.

The Gallery awarded the Art Handlers’ Award earlier in the week to Stephanie Simcox for her portrait titled Joey. Ms Simcox will receive $2,000 cash thanks to IAS, and return shipping of her artwork after the regional tour.

People’s Choice voting opens from 23 March 2018; the public can vote for their favourite image online or in person outside the exhibition space.

The People’s Choice winner will receive a studio and equipment rental package valued at $2,500 and a Canon EOS M5 camera valued at $1,949, supported by Sun Studios.

One lucky voter and their guest will win a hotel package that includes 3 nights’ accommodation, wine and cheese on arrival, cocktail voucher, breakfast, and degustation dinner courtesy of Crowne Plaza Canberra, the Gallery’s Accommodation Partner.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize opens to the public on Saturday 24 March and is on display until Sunday 17 June 2018. The exhibition will then tour around Australia.

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