Olive Cotton Award 2021 winner announced

Congratulations D-Mo, winner of the 2021 Olive Cotton Award for her portrait Vice Versa (2021), announced at an official opening and presentation ceremony at Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah, on Saturday 17 July.

D-Mo, Vice Versa (detail), 2021, digital print on Hahnemuhle photo rag. Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Tweed Regional Gallery, New South Wales

The Olive Cotton Award is a $20,000 biennial national award for excellence in photographic portraiture in memory of photographer Olive Cotton. This year, a total of 72 finalists were selected from a record 605 entries. D-Mo’s digital print was selected by guest judge Michael Cook, one of Australia’s most significant photo-media artists. Cook said the winning work was not only technically strong but also emotionally evocative, asking questions of the viewer.

‘It makes me think about who she is, where she’s from, and where she might be going. I like the suggestive nature of this image, which creates conversation – in my view an important role for art.’

Michael Cook

Cook also Highly Commended a number of other works: Rusty Crawshaw for his portrait The Dengs; Shea Kirk for her portrait Hairstory; Gerrit Fokkema’s Merv in the Long Grass, Dubbo; Judith Martinez Estrada’s Absent/Present; and Craig Tuffin’s THE SUPERS #2.

Gerwyn Davies, Float, 2021, archival inkjet print. Acquired as the Director’s Choice of the Olive Cotton Award, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Tweed Regional Gallery, New South Wales

In addition, Gerwyn Davies’ Float was acquired for the Gallery’s collection, with Director Susi Muddiman OAM awarding it the 2021 Director’s Choice supported by the Friends of Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc.

Muddiman described Davies’ work as a dynamic contemporary addition to the Gallery’s collection: ‘The artist’s depiction of queer identity and self is an exciting complement to our photographic collection.’

Muddiman also singled out the following works as deserving special attention: Rusty Crawshaw’s The Dengs; Tim Hiller’s Jess and the outside; Tajette O’Halloran’s Lismore; Judith Martinez Estrada’s Absent/Present; Isabella Moore’s Bruce Pascoe; Russell Shakespeare’s The Artist Judy Watson; Craig Tuffin’s THE SUPERS #2; and Greg Weight’s Harry Highpants with Seated Figure.

Visitors to the 2021 Olive Cotton Award exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery in New South Wales until 19 September 2021 can cast their own vote in the $250 People’s Choice Award.

To view the work of all 72 finalists online, visit artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au/PrizesAndAwards/OliveCotton.