The $20,000 winner of the 2017 Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture was announced on Saturday 23 July by the 2017 Award Judge Dr Shaune Lakin, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia.
The winner of the 2017 Award is Justine Varga of Sydney. Her portrait of her grandmother Maternal Line 2017 was the stand-out winner for Lakin who said: “While Justine’s work is very contemporary, she’s also deeply interested in the history of photography. It’s a very complex photographic portrait: it made me think a lot about the act of the making a portrait – about what it means today to make a photograph of someone else, even if in the end it doesn’t reveal what they look like. But photography has never just been about appearance. It’s also been part of the way that we experience things like memory and relationships. The image – a series of scrawls made by the artist’s grandmother directly onto a piece of film – has been printed at monumental scale. It’s a very moving portrait of the artist’s relationship with and love for her grandmother.”
Justine Varga travelled from Sydney to attend the opening celebrations and was honoured to be announced as the Winner of the Award, which Lakin called “the most important photographic portrait prize in Australia”. Varga remarked that although her grandmother had called her photographic methods “crazy”, she would be thrilled about the announcement, which was made during the week of her 80th birthday.
Varga’s portrait passes into the Tweed Regional Gallery collection, through the terms of this acquisitive prize and funds from the family of the late Olive Cotton.
Olive Cotton Award
The Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture is a $20,000 biennial national award for excellence in photographic portraiture dedicated to the memory of photographer Olive Cotton. The winning work is acquired for the Gallery’s Collection. The exhibition is selected from entrants across Australia and is a significant opportunity for photographers living and working in Australia.
The Award was launched in 2005, and is funded by Olive Cotton’s family and dedicated to her memory as one of Australia’s leading twentieth century photographers. The Award has grown and gained national recognition attracting entries from well-known and emerging photographers across Australia. The Award boasts a major acquisitive biennial prize of $20,000, selected by the Award judge. In addition, the Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc. fund $4000 for the acquisition of portraits from the exhibition entries to be chosen by the Gallery Director. Visitors to the exhibition may also vote for their 'people’s choice', which awards $250 for to the most popular finalist.
The Gallery thanks art dealer Josef Lebovic and photographer Sally McInerney, Olive Cotton’s daughter, for their ongoing support of the Award and also the Friends of the Gallery committee for their contributions, both financial and practical, to the Award and public program events. We also thank the many volunteers who assist with the huge task of receiving and despatching artworks and many other facets of the Prize organisation.
2017 Finalists Announced
The Olive Cotton Award 2017 is on exhibition from Friday 21 July to Sunday 8 October. The 2017 finalists are:
Matthew ABBOTT ¦ Stephen BACCON ¦ Donna BAILEY ¦ Warwick BAKER ¦ Vanessa BERTAGNOLE ¦ Jeremy BLINCOE ¦ James BRICKWOOD ¦ Rachel Sara BROMBERG ¦ Isaac BROWN ¦ Chris BUDGEON ¦ Margaret BURNS ¦ Daniel BUSHAWAY ¦ Brett CANET-GIBSON ¦ Eva COLLINS ¦ Michael COOK ¦ Michael CORRIDORE ¦ Christopher DAY ¦ Jeremy DRAPE ¦ Marian DREW ¦ Ella DREYFUS ¦ Stephen DUPONT ¦ Jenny EVANS ¦ Merilyn FAIRSKYE ¦ Jacqueline FELSTEAD ¦ George FETTING ¦ Tina FIVEASH ¦ Dean GOLJA ¦ Mike GRAY ¦ Kalem HORN ¦ Penelope HUNT ¦ Kelly HUSSEY-SMITH ¦ Ingvar KENNE ¦ Mark KIMBER ¦ Katrin KOENNING ¦ Thom KOTIS ¦ Jon LEWIS ¦ Michael MARZIK ¦ Joseph McGLENNON ¦ Jason McNAMARA ¦ Rod McNICOL ¦ Ari MESSINA ¦ Jacqueline MITELMAN ¦ Anita MODOK ¦ Matthew NEWTON ¦ Polixeni PAPAPETROU ¦ Travis PATERSON ¦ Zorica PURLIJA ¦ Krystle RICCI ¦ Renate RIENMUELLER ¦ Lynne ROBERTS-GOODWIN ¦ Julie RRAP ¦ David RYRIE ¦ Steven SIEWERT ¦ Roger SKINNER ¦ Tristan STILL ¦ Jacqui STOCKDALE ¦ Donna SULWAY ¦ Virginia SZARAZ ¦ Sarah TALAJ ¦ Angela TARLINTON ¦ CJ TAYLOR ¦ Craig TUFFIN ¦ Justine VARGA ¦ John WATSON ¦ Nicole WELLS ¦ Louise WHELAN ¦ Julie WILLIAMS ¦ Michael WILLIAMS ¦ Annette WILLIS ¦ Yiorgos ZAFIRIOU ¦ Anne ZAHALKA ¦ Sharon ZWI
Maternal Line 2017
chromogenic hand printed photograph from 5 x 5 inch negative
Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2017
courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide
Candid portrait of a woman on a street corner 2013
Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2013
Damien Skipper 2011
pure pigment print on rag paper
Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2011