Bowral-based artist Zoe Young has won the 2018 Portia Geach Memorial Award – the pre-eminent portraiture prize for women in Australia – receiving $30,000 prize for her portrait entitled Drawing Storyboards (Bruce Beresford, film and opera director).
Applying modernist sculpture techniques to portraiture and still life painting, Young creates works that, although nostalgic, domestic and unapologetically feminine in subject matter, are built upon solid structural foundations that reveal picture planes that curve and block in the same way as sculpture. The drive to distil the beauty and essence of the moment is at the core of Young’s intentions.
Reflecting on her win, Young said: ‘I am thrilled and honoured to have received this important award which celebrates the work of women painters. The Portia Geach is vital for female artists across the country and has provided a much-needed platform to display the work of young, emerging artists alongside that of established painters whose work I greatly admire. The award gives me the support to progress my artistic practice and I look forward to creating my next body of work.’
The judging panel – Samantha Meers, Trustee of Art Gallery of New South Wales, Natalie Wilson, Curator of Australian and Pacific Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Jane Watters, Director, S.H Ervin Gallery – selected Young’s work from 365 entries received from female artists across the nation. Commenting on her winning portrait, they said: ‘This narrative, figurative painting gives us an insight into the working life of the sitter, film director Bruce Beresford. Beresford is the central focus of the work but is surrounded by a series of smaller scenes which show the creative process behind his work. Zoe Young has painted this tonal work with expressive brushwork enlivening the picture and giving the impression of viewing an intimate moment with the sitter as he sits deep in contemplation.’
An exhibition of all finalists’ works is currently on show at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in The Rocks, Sydney, until December 2.
First awarded in 1965, The Portia Geach Memorial Award was established by Florence Kate Geach in memory of her sister, artist Portia Geach. As stipulated in her will, the award is annually presented to an Australian female artist for the best portrait painted from life of a man or woman distinguished in art, letters or the sciences.