Sydney artist Sally Robinson has been awarded the 2019 ‘Portia Geach Memorial Award’, Australia’s most recognised portraiture prize for women for her work titled Body in a box (2019).
Perpetual, trustee of the Award, presented Robinson with the $30,000 prize at S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks on Thursday 1 August. This is the second time the artist has won the ‘Portia Geach Memorial Award’, the first was in 2012 with her portrait The Artist’s Mother (2012).
‘Winning the award for a second time is rather a shock – to win once is wonderful, to win twice is totally unexpected. But of course I am delighted and the prize money will finance more art production,’ said Robinson.
The call for entries for this year’s award attracted 409 submissions by female artists from across the country with 57 finalists in the final selection. The judging panel which included Samantha Meers, Trustee of the 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 said ‘We admired this bold and audacious portrait which demonstrates an understanding of tonal painting, composition and original technique. The confronting image of the figure contained within a box challenges our social perceptions around ageing and the body. The artist has cleverly used the construct of the box to break down the liminal space between the painting and the viewer.’
The finalists: Catherine Abel, Elizabeth Barden, Kate Beynon, Joanna Braithwaite, Michelle Campbell, Ann Cape, Leslye Cole, Yvette Coppersmith, Julie Corfe, Dagmar Cyrulla, Jo Darbyshire, Sinead Davies, Michelle Dawson, Nicolette Eisdell, Esther Erlich, Linda Gold, Jane Guthleben, Ildiko Hammond, Christine Hiller, Peta Hinton, Pollyxenia Joannou, Nicole Kelly, Rosemary Lee, Kim Leutwyler, Kathrin Longhurst, Alison Mackay, Margaret Mckenna, Matilda Michell, Rachel Milne, Justine Muller, Susan O’Doherty, Amanda Penrose Hart, Lori Pensini, Rachel Perrin, Victoria Reichelt, Brenda Runnegar, Sally Ryan, Lynn Savery, Dee Smart, Kylie Melinda Smith, Loribelle Spirovski, Robyn Stanton Werkhoven, Colleen Stapleton, Lilli Stromland, Liz Stute, Robyn Sweaney, Jill Talbot, Clare Thackway, Deborah Walker, Mirra Whale, Leigha White, Zoe Young, Caroline Zilinsky, Zuza Zochowski, Tianli Zu and Michelle Zuccolo.
Perpetual General Manager of Community and Social Investments, Caitriona Fay congratulated Sally Robinson on her achievement and highlighted the important role of philanthropy in the Australian arts community, she said ‘Art is an important part of the fabric of Australian life and culture. Perpetual is proud to be trustee of this award helping women to be recognised in the Arts Community. Portia Geach’s philanthropic contribution is an important example of how one person’s generosity and vision can have wide-reaching impact.’
The Portia Geach Memorial Award was established by Florence Kate Geach in memory of her sister, artist Portia Geach in 1965. As per the direction of the 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.
The exhibition of finalist works and Robinson’s winning portrait are on display at S.H. Ervin Gallery until 15 September 2019.