Notable Awards: Jack Lanagan Dunbar

Joining the illustrious line up of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship is 2019’s winner Jack Lanagan Dunbar, who took the coveted prize for his series Pantheon.

Words: Andrew Frost

Portraits: The artist

Now in its 21st year, the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship is not just a desirable prize for an artist to win. The three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and $40,000 to pursue art education in Europe is also considered an indicator of a promising early career. Using funds first set aside by Beryl Whiteley to the memory her late son, the artist Brett Whiteley, the prize regularly attracts serious painting talent. Among past winners are Ben Quilty, Alan Jones, Amber Wallis, Mitch Cairns, Tom Polo and Natasha Walsh.

Joining this illustrious line up is 2019’s winner Jack Lanagan Dunbar, who took the coveted prize for his series Pantheon. The series combines personal experiences and memories with references to ancient mythology and figures from antiquity, resulting in paintings that explore abstraction and mark making.

Like many of Australia’s art awards, the Brett Whiteley Scholarship is judged by an artist. For 2019, that role was undertaken by painter Gemma Smith. “Jack’s paintings are sumptuous and poetic,” she says. “I was drawn to the way his paintings are at once deeply thoughtful and spontaneous. Full of allusions to classical mythology, while simultaneously caught up in the moment, with the immediacy of mark making.”

Working across a variety of forms and media, Dunbar’s work explores what he describes as a combination of the “…tension between materiality and time with an eye on history, whimsy, archaeology, the classical, Romanticism, humour and tragedy”. He uses a variety of materials in his paintings, including patina, acrylic paint, vinyl-based paint, chinagraph and lacquer on copper sheets.

Of this variety of approaches, Smith says that the artist “…uses a confounding combination of materials – the result is fascinating and alchemical. He has already developed a strong art practice and I’m sure that an extended period in Europe will have an extraordinary impact on his work.”

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 91, JAN – MAR 2020. 


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Artist Profile: Atong Atem

Complex and drenched in personal and collective history, the work of Atong Atem asks us to refocus our gaze.

VIDEO: Pull Focus with Tawhai Rickard

Watch artist Tawhai Rickard in conversation with Sue Gardiner about his work ‘Te Kuri’s Hybrid Mobile’.

Behind The Scenes: Art Life Post-Covid

Fighting funding cuts, organisation closures and social distancing requirements, the Australian art world is finding new ways to engage and evolve as the world wakes up to a post-Covid reality.

McClelland launches Limited Edition Small Sculpture project

McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery latest commissions support pandemic-impacted artists and respond to collector demand.

Acknowledgement of Country

Aotearoa Art Fair announces 2022 gallery line-up

40 galleries from across Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond will present artwork at The Cloud next year.

Arts Project Australia Annual Gala supports artists with intellectual disability

200+ artworks up for sale in much-loved yearly auction and exhibition.

VIDEO: Pull Focus with Julian Meagher

Watch artist Julian Meagher in conversation with Louise Martin-Chew about a pair of his recent artworks.

Georges River Art Prize 2021 winners announced

Winners announced for biennial south-west Sydney award, sharing in prize pool of more than $19,000.

Pull Focus: Renee So

Micheal Do discusses what makes Renee So’s work ‘Venus of Valdivia II’ work as a work of art.

Pull Focus: Danie Mellor

Louise Martin-Chew discusses what makes Danie Mellor’s work ‘The life of shadows [bala wurrmburr jubaru]’ work as a work of art.

Lifecycle of a Collector: For Love or Money, or Both?

Whatever their motivation, there’s no doubt artwork donations by artists and collectors benefit our public art institutions.

VIDEO: Pull Focus with Alexander McKenzie

Watch artist Alexander McKenzie in conversation with Louise Martin-Chew about his work ‘Dark billabong’.

2021 Portia Geach Memorial Award winner announced

Marie Mansfield wins $30,000 in Australia’s most prestigious art prize for portraiture by women.

Harry McAlpine joins Chalk Horse stable

Sydney gallery adds New Zealand-born photographer to its growing stable.

‘Four x Four @ McClelland’ to support lockdown-impacted Victorian artists

McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery pioneers new initiative in the lead-up to Christmas.