Words: Erin Irwin
This year’s Lester Prize for Portraiture, hosted by the Art Gallery of Western Australia, received a whopping 950 entries from artists across the country. With a prize pool of $115,000, the prize highlights the best of portraiture by emerging and established artists.
This year’s top prize went to Tarryn Gill for her self-portrait Limber (self-portrait in relief). A Perth-based multidisciplinary artist, Gill’s work was created using textiles on board, forming a stunning image resplendent in gold tones. The figure is squeezed into the frame, embracing itself, and challenging the viewer with one bright blue eye. Of the work, Gill says that it “reflects my personal history as a dancer performing body contortions, and my growth through hypermobility, instability and injury”.
This year’s judges, Alan R. Dodge AM, Gina Fairley, and Emma Bitmead, said that “Tarryn Gill’s portrait Limber (self-portrait in relief) demonstrates a resolved artistic practice through its confidence of making and visual language. The work uses materials powerfully to present a harmonious bodily and gestural portrait. Gill’s work is a challenge to perceptions of portraiture, without ostracising the viewer. It is a very accomplished study of self”.
The 17th edition of the prize also recognised several other artists for their impressive finalist works. Minjung Kang’s Silence nabbed her the Barton Family Foundation Installers Prize, the Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize and a Highly Commended, while Liz Stute won the Minderoo Foundation Spirit Prize for her work Jess. The Ashurst Emerging Artist prize went to India Mark for her Studio self-portrait, and Sarah Paton was also given a Highly commended for her work Memento mori.
Executive Director of the Lester Prize Annie Silberstein stated that “Again we were thrilled with the level of engagement with The Lester Prize through submissions of works by artists throughout Australia, as well as the judges enthusiasm and our sponsor support”. She added that “I encourage everyone to come and view the forty finalists on display at AGWA over the next nine weeks and cast their vote for the Baldock Family People’s Choice award”
The award exhibition is open until Sunday 26 November at the AGWA, and all visitors can select their favourite of the finalists for one last prize of $10,000.
This article was posted 9 October 2023.
Image: Tarryn Gill, Limber (self-portrait in relief) (detail), 2023. Textiles on board, 90 x 65 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney.