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October 23, 2021

Local photographer finalist in National Portrait Prize

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Pin Point. Photo Rod Poole (the finalist photo cannot yet be made public).

Lismore-based photographer R J Poole is one of eighty finalists from over 3,000 entries in this year’s Living Memory: National Photographic Portrait Prize.

The Portrait Prize is one of Australia’s premier art events and will be shown at the National Portrait Gallery in King Edward Terrace in Canberra from July 31 until November 7, 2021.

Mr Poole told The Echo he was honoured to be a finalist. This is the first time he’s entered the competition. ‘There so many artists doing so many things, that being seen or heard above this background noise is extremely difficult,’ he said.

‘Added to this is Australia’s concentration of people and resources in Sydney and Melbourne. So competitions are one of the few ways regional-based artists have any chance of recognition.

‘The Australian arts are heavily institutionalized and under funded, so I’ve invested a lot of energy in traveling and exhibiting in other parts of the world where art in general is more valued,’ said Mr Poole.

‘While I’ve struggled to find any interest or support for my work at home, my art has been more warmly received elsewhere – so my shortlisting in the National Portrait Prize is a welcomed acknowledgement.’

Work in Australia and overseas

Just Beyond Sight. Photo R J Poole.

With a background in the military, Mr Poole has been active in the photographic art world since the 1980s, and has exhibited widely.

His signature body of work the ‘Anima Series’ is inspired by the feminine aspect of the male psyche and includes such themes as gender identity, spirituality and innocence.

While most of the Anima Series is photographed locally in the Northern Rivers, it includes overseas work in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Romania and the American Mid-West.

R J  Poole is also known for his iconic photographs of the Bentley Blockade.

With few exceptions, Mr Poole collaborates with various people in Lismore, some of whom have been working with him for up to seventeen years and who provide an alter ego through which he expresses himself.

While the finalist photo is under wraps for now, R J Poole’s work can be viewed on the follow sites:



and Flickr:

Looking for America

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  1. He’s not the only local talent, Francis Cloake, Byron Bay has also been chosen as a finalist for one of her fabulous portraits

  2. Thank you to David Lowe and the Echo for supporting local artists and events. I’ve long been critical of the arts establishment in our region. Arts Northern Rivers and the Lismore Regional Gallery make little or no effort to identify or reach out to individual artists throughout our community. At the very least, they could offer acknowledgement and recognition for those members of the local community who are active in exhibiting, publishing, performing their work in locations around the globe or being honored by organisations outside of the Far North Coast who appreciate and encourage the talent that lives here. I know of many local artists who feel this way and have expressed their concerns to me, so I know I’m not alone in thinking this way. The arts establishment needs to be more proactive in initiating contact rather than expecting people to come to them.


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