16 C
Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

Grandmother photo wins $20,000 Olive Cotton Award

Latest News

Privately owned, but still ‘sacred site’ – Nimbin church burns to the ground

Last night at around 9pm, St Patrick's Catholic Church in Nimbin burned to the ground.

Other News

Queensland Parliamentary Annexe disturbed by Extinction Rebellion protest

This morning, October 13, a protest organised by Extinction Rebellion disrupted the Queensland Parliamentary Annexe in Brisbane.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Mind Your Language

The other day someone called me a sheeple. I was offended. Not personally, but on behalf of sheep. It’s a term meant to denigrate my agency by suggesting I have herd stupidity. Sheep are incredible, and surprising beings. Before you start denigrating sheep, you should know they are emotionally complex animals who can self-medicate!

Cartoon of the week – 13 October, 2021

The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast.

Can we inoculate against the racism virus?

Like many others, I watched with interest the recently screened ABC documentary, The School that Tried to End Racism.

ICAC and the premier

For Liberal Party luminaries it’s obviously been a heart-wrenching experience watching Gladys Berejiklian bite the dust and they are...

Tackling mosquitoes together in Ballina

Following its successful launch late last year, Northern Rivers councils and the North Coast Public Health Unit are once again running Tackling Mosquitoes Together, a behaviour change program to reduce the disease risks and nuisance of mosquitoes in homes and local communities.

Winning photographer Justine Varga and 2017 judge Dr Shaune Lakin with overall prizewinner, Maternal Lines. (supplied)
Winning photographer Justine Varga and 2017 judge Dr Shaune Lakin with overall prizewinner, Maternal Lines. (supplied)

Sydney photographer Justine Varga has won the $20,000 overall prize for the 2017 Olive Cotton Award for a large-scale work in homage to her grandmother.

The award was announced in an official opening and presentation ceremony at Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah on Saturday night.

Varga’s work, Maternal Line, was selected from the work of 72 finalists, including emerging and established photographers from throughout Australia.

This year’s judge, Dr Shaune Lakin, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), took a number of hours to make his final selection, saying Varga’s entry is “a very moving portrait of the artist’s relationship with and love for her grandmother”.

Lakin described Maternal Line as “a series of scrawls made by the artist’s grandmother directly onto a piece of film [which] has been printed at monumental scale”.

“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,” he said.

The Papapetrou Family, a striking portrait by Sydney photographer Anne Zahalka, caught the eye of both Lakin and the Gallery's Director, Susi Muddiman OAM. (supplied)
The Papapetrou Family, a striking portrait by Sydney photographer Anne Zahalka, caught the eye of both Lakin and the Gallery’s Director, Susi Muddiman OAM. (supplied)

The Papapetrou Family, a striking portrait by Sydney photographer Anne Zahalka, was snapped up as the 2017 Director’s Choice Acquisition for the Gallery, using funds from the Friends of the Gallery. It was also one of five Highly Commended works chosen by the Judge.

Lakin also Highly Commended:
•  Jed & Sam  2016 by Warwick Baker from Melbourne (type C print) – an intimate and moving double portrait taken in the couple’s bedroom.
•  Ghost  2017 by Tina Fiveash from Sydney (digital print) – a poignant and thought provoking image of a woman in the desert.
•  My ghost  2017 by Polixeni Papapetrou from Melbourne (screen print on gold metallic foil and linen) – a haunting and beautiful portrait of the artist’s daughter Olympia.
•  Timmily  2017  by Rod McNicol from Melbourne (digital print) – a striking portrait in McNicol’s ongoing documentary of the ‘variegated’ inhabitants of his home in inner city Melbourne.
Visitors to the exhibition can vote for their ‘people’s choice’, with a $250 prize for the most popular finalist, funded by the Friends of the Gallery.

A record 492 entries were received this year for the biennial award, which is funded by Olive Cotton’s family in memory of Cotton, who was one of Australia’s leading 20th century photographers.

A full list of finalists is available on the Gallery’s website at http://artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au/PrizesAndAwards/OliveCotton.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. I wonder which particular aspects the judge rated as meritorious?
    And why didn’t the grandmother receive the prize as it was her work?
    Give me a break!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

XR plans two weeks of ‘Reclaim our Future’ protests

Extinction Rebellion Lismore is part of the Northern Rivers push to highlight the issue of climate change and a march and candlelit vigil last night was the start to a fortnight of ‘Reclaim Our Future’ protests.

Phone scam – Just.Hang.Up.

Crime Stoppers says that almost 90 per cent of Australians have received at least one nuisance or unwanted call every week

Anti-DV umbrellas launched in Ballina

Rotary have partnered with NSW Police to design and distribute 150 umbrellas with a very clear message: 'Say NO to domestic violence'.


The truth doesn’t mind being questioned. A lie does. Margot Hays, Bangalow