$30,000 Portia Geach Memorial Award | 2017 winner announced

Tasmanian-based artist Amanda Davies has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Portia Geach Memorial Award, the pre-eminent portraiture prize for women in Australia.

Davies was presented the accolade at the official opening of the finalists’ exhibition on Thursday 19 October, at Sydney’s S.H. Ervin Gallery, from special guest speaker Jane Caro, social commentator, writer and lecturer. The artist’s depiction of renowned contemporary photographer Pat Brassington secured her the $30,000 annual prize, administered by the Award Trustee, Perpetual.

Amanda Davies, Portrait of Pat Brassington (artist)

On her bridal representation of Brassington, Davies said;

‘Pat Brassington was born in Hobart and is one of Australia’s leading photo media artists. Influenced by surrealism, feminism and fetishism, Pat has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Awarded the inaugural Don Macfarlane Prize in 2017 in honour of her life and artistic ambitions her work can be seen in the exhibition ‘Pat Brassington: The Body Electric’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 11 February 2018.

Wedding dresses are a recurring motif in her work such as Drink Me (1997) and Akimbo (1999). Years ago I photographed Pat in her wedding dress, for a painting that was never made. Revisiting that theme in this painting Pat is wearing a wedding dress inside out with bra cups and seams exposed. There is a pink smear around her mouth becoming a point of leakage where the inside is outed, where identity starts to wobble, becoming unstable, oscillating – as I attempt to reveal shifting emotional states in my sitter. Pat and I share a love for female country and folk singers, beautiful voices and crushing dark lyrics. Gillian Welch in Miss Ohio sings: “An’ mama starts pushing that wedding gown, Yeah you want to do right but not right now”.’

The judging panel for this year’s award comprised of Geoff Ainsworth AM and Samantha Meers, Trustees of Art Gallery of New South Walesas well as Jane Watters, Director S.H Ervin Gallery.

Amanda Davies is represented by Bett Gallery, Hobart.

S.H. Ervin Gallery
20 October to 26 November, 2017

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