Winner of La Prairie Art Award announced

Thea Anamara Perkins to be the recipient of the 2023 edition of award supporting women artists.

Words: Erin Irwin

The La Prairie Art Award, an invitational award presented by the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Swiss luxury skincare house La Prairie, has named as its second recipient Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist Thea Anamara Perkins.

Recognising living Australian artists who are female-identifying, the La Prairie Art Award is an acquisitive award that last year provided a total $80,000 prize. Recipients can look forward to an international residency as well as their work joining the AGNSW’s collection. Additionally, Perkins will visit Switzerland as a VIP guest of La Prairie at Art Basel in June this year.

‘I believe it’s crucial that artists are well supported to create their work’, says the artist, ‘I’m really excited by the international residency with La Prairie. It’s invaluable to have this opportunity to extend my practice internationally, especially as a First Nations artist.’

Perkins, a three-time Archibald Prize finalist and winner of the Alice Prize & Dreaming Award in 2020, looks to family photographs to create intimate portraits of personal significance. Her practice aims to honour her heritage and celebrate her ties to Country – an approach particularly apt for an artist from a long line of First Nations activists, including her Grandfather Charles Perkins, aunty and filmmaker Rachel Perkins, and mother and art curator Hetti Perkins.

AGNSW will acquire four paintings by the artist representing three generations of her family. A scene from her sister’s birthday, a moment on the beach with her grandfather with her mother and uncle during the 60s, her mother posing with her grandfather graduating university, and a portrait of her grandfather and aunt at Telegraph Station in Mparntwe/Alice Springs have all been chosen for the collection.

‘Fleeting, yet suspended in time, they are storied, and coloured by my own emotions and memories’, says Perkins of her work, ‘they seek to express the love and strength in First Nations families and situate these instances of joy and belonging, or ‘glimmers’ into our collective imagination,’.

Of the artist’s artistic approach, AGNSW senior curator of Australian contemporary art Isobel Parker Philip says that Perkins ‘understands photography’s capacity to isolate and memorialise particular moments in time. This, paired with her unique approach to line, colour and form, lends her work an emotive resonance. Transient moments are encoded and commemorated in the gentle yet precise gestures of her brushstrokes’.

The works will be on display at AGNSW’s South building until Sunday 19 March, before they join the exhibition The National 4: Australian Art Now, open until Sunday 23 July.

Perkins is represented by N.Smith Gallery, Sydney, with a solo show of her works to be shown at the gallery in October 2023.

To read more about the La Prairie Art Award, visit the AGNSW website here.

This article was posted 16 March 2023.

Image: Thea Anamara Perkins at her home. Courtesy: the artist and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Photography: Jacquie Manning.

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