At the opening celebrations of the 2012 Portia Geach Memorial Award – hosted by Sydney’s S.H. Ervin Gallery – Sally Robinson was announced as this year’s winner with her portrait The Artist’s Mother.
A deeply personal portrait, the sitter is Robinson’s mother who passed away from Cancer in July this year, completed while her mother was undergoing chemotherapy. Speaking about her winning portrait, Robinson said; “my portrait depicts Mum at 89, after chemotherapy had robbed her of her beautiful hair. It is a landscape of her face, conveying her strength, stoicism and defiance as well as her vulnerability and frail humanity. She survived long enough to see the portrait completed, but sadly, not long enough to see it win the Portia Geach Award. She would have been very pleased.”
Robinson’s portrait is one of 55 finalist pictures, selected from some 295 entries by Australian female artists who put forward their portraits painted from life of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters or the sciences. The winning entry received $18,000 in prize money, which was last night presented to Robinson by Mr John Atkin, CEO of The Trust Company as Trustee who’ve administered the award for 47 years.
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Jane Watters, Director of the S.H. Ervin Galley, congratulated Ms Robinson for the sensitive depiction of her elderly mother.
“The judges responded to the close relationship of the artist to her sitter and the sincere expression of sentimentality in the work. The artist has attempted to bridge several stylistic approaches in the visual language employed in this work and although the work is based on the grid, it transcends the formulaic and animates the face of the sitter to reveal her courage and vulnerability,” Ms Watters said.
Also drawing the judges’ attention was the self portrait, Stormfront, by Sophie Cape which received a highly commended.
The exhibition continues until 4 November, 2012, at the S. H. Ervin Gallery.
Photography by Laraine Deer – images of the opening night and award celebrations at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney