Belinda Mason’s Taken (2019) has been selected as the winning portrait in the 2019 Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture.
This year’s judge, photo media artist Marian Drew, commented on the high standard of works, taking over two hours to make her final decision. Her choice influenced by the photographic object and its ability to engage the viewer with its subject: ‘In the context of screen culture the photographic object is far more visceral and sensual than its screen counterpart, through a mutual gaze one is transported long enough to forget oneself, or rather see oneself in the ‘other’.’
Drew firmly believes that rather than lose its power through the millions of photos produced on screen every day, a photographic portrait exhibition – such as the Olive Cotton Award – ‘gives us time to really think and feel about our connection to other people, reviving our sense of empathy’. This is particularly apparent in the winning portrait whose subject is a survivor of childhood trauma.
The works of Brett Moffatt, Dave Carswell, Michael Corridore, and Sam Scoufos received the Highly Commended award. Also, Petrina Hick’s Cleopatra (2019) was acquired for the Tweed Regional Gallery’s collection with Director Susi Muddiman OAM awarding it the 2019 Director’s Choice. He has described the work as ‘provocative, mysterious, suggestive and a little eerie’.
‘Petrina is an artist I continue to find surprising. Her work is always beautifully executed with a strong narrative. Petrina also has a long association with the prize since its early days as the then Josephine Ulrich Photographic Prize.
The Gallery’s collection plays an integral role in my selection, and I am thrilled that this work, and the Russell Shakespeare portrait of Tim Fairfax AC, whose humility and gentlemanly nature have been captured so beautifully, will join the collection,’ Muddiman continued.
Further – and with unanimous support from the Foundation Board – the portrait Tim Fairfax by Russell Shakespeare was acquired for the Gallery. Muddiman also singled out the work of Jacqui Stockdale, Craig Tuffin, Brett Moffatt and Gary Grealy as deserving special attention.
The Olive Cotton Award finalists’ exhibition is currently on show at Tweed Regional Gallery and runs until 22 September 2019. Visitors to the exhibition can cast their vote in the People’s Choice Award for the duration of the show. The exhibitor with the most votes receives $250, donated by the Friends of the Gallery.