40 finalists, WA’s premier portrait prize – The Lester Prize

Congratulations to all 40 finalists selected for Western Australia’s premier portrait prize – The Lester Prize. Formally known as the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture, this award is now in its fifteenth year.

The Lester Prize invites artists from across Australia to submit portraits of an Australian, or Australians, that they respect or admire, or a self-portrait. Among the finalists’ works were 15 self-portraits, with the common theme of self-reflection and isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Famous sitters include twin sisters from pop duo The Veronicas, popular WA Premier Mark McGowan, and Dr Helen Haines MP. Other works are of family members, inspirational men and women, past sporting greats and Indigenous elders.

Sally Ryan, Never again

This year’s Main Awards Pre-Selection Panel members were Tom Mùller, Emilia Galatis, Helen Turner, Isobel Wise and Jim Cathcart – a group of independent experts in their respective fields with no commercial association with The Lester Prize. During the Pre-Selection process, the panel is never provided with the name or location of the artist (just the artwork image, title, dimensions and medium on screen).

Turner said:

‘We can define portraiture as ‘an artwork that tells a person’s story, evoking a sense of connection between viewer and subject’. This years’ portrait selection is convincingly human, personal, emotional and reveals a part of the life and story of each individual.’

‘The artists are all to be congratulated for demonstrating their skill and creativity and giving us a 2021 Lester Prize of never ending fascination for the human condition, represented in its very many stages and phases of life,’ continued Turner.

Stacey Rees, Red portrait

The 2021 finalists are: Sophia Alone, Jordan Andreotta, Sarah Anthony, Adoni Astrinakis, Elizabeth Barden, Nathan Betts, Illyampi Victor Burton, Stirling Caiulo, Melissa Clements, Desiree Crossing, Martie Curtis, David Darcy, Jennie Davies, Gene Hart-Smith, Ben Howe, Amelia Jajko, Anne McCaughey, Anne Middleton, Raeleen Pfeiffer, Elizabeth Nelson, Liam Nunan, Nathan Paddison, Evert Ploeg, Joel Rea, Stacey Rees, Cameron Richards, Jordan Richardson, Sally Ryan, Emily Song, James Stickland, Jill Talbot, Sidney Tapia, Seabastion Toast, Jim van Geet, Jana Vodesil-Baruffi, Eugene von Nagy, Brook Walker, Renee Wilson, Christine Wrest-Smith, Narelle Zeller.

Jordan Richardson, The dunce

The Lester Prize is one of the nation’s most recognised and prestigious fine art prizes, with a prize pool worth over $100,000, including the main prize of $50,000 and a new initiative, the $5,000 Barton Family Foundation Installers’ Prize.

The 40 finalists’ works will be on view at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in the Centenary Galleries from 16 October to 29 November 2021, with the main winner announced on Friday 15 October.

Also announced were the 30 Youth Award finalists selected from High Schools across the country.


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