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Byron Shire
June 19, 2021

Hurford Portrait Prize entries to close next week

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Wollongong-based artist Nicole Kelly won the 2018 Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize with her portrait of fellow artist Jumaadi.
Jumaadi + Clouds + Rain 2017, oil on polyester, image courtesy the artist.

Have you created a great portrait? Hosted by the Lismore Regional Gallery, the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize is a biennial prize open to artists Australia wide and is now in its seventh year and open for entries.

Originally The Northern Rivers Portrait Prize, this national portrait prize began as a competition for paintings and drawings but has now expanded to include portraits of any subject in any medium.

The judge in 2020 is artist Abdul Abdullah and the winner will receive $10,000 (acquisitive prize).

Gallery Director Brett Adlington says that these sorts of art prizes are important because they are often great ways in which audiences can get an overview of current practice.

Lismore Regional Gallery Director Brett Adlington. Photo supplied.

‘For this prize, and in being open to any medium, means that people can see the incredibly diverse ways in which artists approach the human form. For artists, it is a chance to have your work seen alongside your peers, for it to be considered by group of industry professionals, and for your work to be seen by audiences who wouldn’t necessarily be aware of your practice.

Mr Adlington says there has been a theme emerging in recent years with a bit more of a focus on self-portraiture. ‘Though this is nothing new really in the history of portraiture. For many artists, whose practice can often be fairly solitary, having yourself as the model does obviously mean your subject is always willing to sit for you! It also means that you can be a bit more playful in how you represent yourself.

From the 2018 event, Zom Osborne – who will Protect Us 2018, acrylic on wood, image courtesy the artist.

Some are curious about how the merits of a painting or drawing may be compared to a photograph. ‘It’s like any portrait, be it a drawing, painting, sculpture – or photograph – if the artist has the ability to capture something unique about that person, or stops the viewer in their tracks then it has achieved something.’

The 2020 Prize will be judged by artist Adbul Abdullah.

Mr Adlington says that the prize did initially start as an award specifically depicting a person with a connection to the Northern Rivers (though the artist could be from anywhere).

‘After a few iterations of this, we felt we needed to cast the net wider, to allow for a more diverse exhibition each time, as we started to feel that each award did not differ too dramatically from the one prior. Having said that, the preselection process does err towards having a strong showing of Northern Rivers-based artists.

‘Additionally, since we have opened in the new building, having an expanded prize does bring more national attention to the gallery, the award, and thus local artists.’

Online entries for the prize close on Thursday 27 August by 10pm

The exhibition of finalists will be on display from 7 November 2020 – 31 January 2021.

For more information list the Lismore Regional Gallery website.

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