Lori Pensini wins major Kilgour Prize

The Western Australia-based artist has been awarded $50,000 for a work depicting inter-racial relationships.

Words: Adriana Borsey

Western Australian artist and perennial Kilgour Prize finalist Lori Pensini has won the prestigious $50,000 art prize with a reflection on inter-racial relationships and her family lineage. The Kilgour Prize is administered by Newcastle Art Gallery, which received a record 476 works submitted for its 2021 price from artists across the nation, representing some of the best examples of contemporary Australian portrait and figurative painting.

The Kilgour Prize 2021 was judged by Newcastle Art Gallery director Lauretta Morton, Campbelltown Arts Centre head of curatorial Adam Porter and the head teacher of Fine Art at Newcastle Art School, David Trout.

Pensini has been a full-time practicing artist since 1994, with a major part of her creative career focusing on oil, mixed-media paintings and drawings, extending to include sculpture, design objects and photography. An eighth-generation grazier, botanical and animal forms are an integral part of her practice. For the artist, these forms are not painted as a means of adornment on her subjects, but are intentionally interwoven among her works, often acting as extensions of the bodies and faces she paints.

Pensini’s winning work, Family 2021, depicts family portraits on heirloom fine bone china plates, which the artist said were a “tribute to the inter-racial relationships of my colonial fore-bearers and First Peoples of the southwest of Western Australia.”

“Each plate is unique to itself, honoring individual endeavors and fortitude,” she says. “Collectively they embody the sense of family, of intimate bonds forged and the endurance of fervent relationships that defied racial vilification of the times.”

Pensini has been a Kilgour Prize finalist for five consecutive years, (2017-2021) and was the People’s Choice winner in 2018. Morton says Pensini’s “technically strong and innovative work demonstrates in a beautiful and subdued way the exploration of Australian identity.”

For more information on the 2021 Kilgour Prize click here.

This article was originally published 27 August 2021.

Image: Lori Pensini’s prize-winning artwork Family 2021. Courtesy: Kilgour Prize and the artist.

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