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The National Portrait Gallery Announces Art Handlers’ Award

18 February 2019

A Calm So Deep, 2018 by Elizabeth Looker
A Calm So Deep, 2018 by Elizabeth Looker

The National Portrait Gallery is excited to announce that Perth photographer Elizabeth Looker has won the Art Handlers’ Award for this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize.

Awarded for her portrait titled ‘A calm so deep’, Elizabeth says her interest when photographing Dorotea was to understand and capture not the physical, but the spiritual – how a person feels rather than how they look.

“When I see this image I can't help but close my eyes with Dorotea. It's ironic that a photograph inspires me not to look, but it just allows me to breathe and to feel connected to her inner world, and then my own.”

As recipient of the Art Handlers’ Award, Elizabeth will receive a $2,000 cash prize and free return transport of her work at the conclusion of the exhibition’s tour, supported by International Art Services.

With 39 finalists to consider, Portrait Gallery Art Handlers Michelle and James had a tough decision to make, but in the end the duo were equally drawn to Elizabeth’s portrait:

“This work is deeply sincere and open. The golden glow emitted from the fabric of the dress and skin of the subject seems to speak of the ethereal – the inexplicable ‘self’. The sitter’s stance is powerful, but her expression is suggestive of vulnerability. The overall effect is a strong connection to the sitter and a sense of her truth.”

Art Handlers' Award NPPP 2019
Video: 1 minute

Elizabeth took out the title as Winner of the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 for her portrait ‘Life dancers’ and is still in the running to be crowned winner of this year’s Prize.

This is the fourth year for the Art Handlers’ Award, which is selected as finalists’ works for the National Photographic Portrait Prize arrive for display.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 opens to the public on Saturday 23 February and is on display until Sunday 7 April before touring to regional locations around Australia. The Winner and Highly Commended will be announced on the evening of Friday 22 February 2019.