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Textiles Scientist Voted the People’s Favourite

27 March 2019

The Textiles Scientist, 2018 by Kate Atkinson
The Textiles Scientist, 2018 by Kate Atkinson

The black and white portrait of an elderly woman with sidelong glance and irreverent, contemplative smile has taken out the people’s choice award in this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize.

Photographer Kate Atkinson says that for the past year or so she has travelled to various parts of Australia to meet and photograph all types of people, with only one prerequisite – they had to be over 80.

“Ruth Baig was one of the people I met in an aged care facility in Victoria. I was instantly taken by her wit, intelligence and gorgeous hair. Ruth was well spoken, highly educated and a proud mother of two daughters. She told me tales of her solo travels to India, how she came to be in Australia, her poems that were published in the Manchester Guardian, and how she turned down a job at the newspaper in favour of studying textiles science at Manchester University,” Kate said.

“Through this project, I wanted to explore perceptions of aging, the importance of relationships and how vital they are to human existence and happiness. It is also about conversations, connections and stories. In our society, as people get older they may be treated differently or forgotten – the elderly may become seemingly invisible, but within these people are histories – exciting, incredible, rich lives … if only we take the time to ask.”

Kate’s portrait was the clear winner of the poll with 1276 votes, making her the lucky recipient of a Broncolor Siros 800 L Outdoor Kit 2 valued at $7,451 thanks to SUNSTUDIOS.

“I’d like to congratulate Kate on her beautiful and considered portrait – an excellent People’s Choice,” said SUNSTUDIOS General Manager Alan Brightman.

“The National Photographic Portrait Prize is a leading platform that showcases Australia’s talent, and I believe that in partnership, our support will assist visual creatives to thrive in their careers.”

The other top ranking portraits in the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 People’s Choice Award were:

2nd place – Unbreakable by Dave Laslett – 819 votes
3rd place – Sumbawa Pride by Alex Vaughan – 805 votes
4th place – Alex by Michael Murchie – 734 votes
5th place – Portrait of Deel by Stef King – 730 votes

1The Unbreakable, 2018 by Dave Laslett. 2Sumbawa Pride - Life on a Boat With Eleven Kids, 2018 by Alex Vaughan. 3Alex, 2018 by Michael Murchie. 4Deel, 2018 by Stefanie King.

One lucky voter has also won an accommodation package to the value of $2,000 courtesy of Crowne Plaza Canberra.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 is currently in its final weeks and will be on display at the Portrait Gallery in Canberra until Sunday 7 April 2019. It will then commence a national tour to the following venues:

Collie Art Gallery: 26 April – 9 June 2019
Geraldton Regional Art Gallery: 27 July – 22 September 2019
Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery: 4 October – 17 November 2019
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre: 25 January – 22 March 2020

© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.