Victorian photography student Elli Bardas has won the $15,000 inaugural Ballarat International Foto Biennale Martin Kantor Portrait Prize for a black and white photograph of her aunt Vicki Vodor.

Chosen from 27 finalists including Christian Thompson and Tamara Dean, the artist’s award-winning piece is an elegant and commanding portrait of Vodor who has been a board member of the Lighthouse Foundation, an organisation that supports homeless young people, for more than 20 years. She is also a patron of the foundation’s Vicki Vodor Home for Young Mothers and Babies.

“This portrait stands within a tradition of black and white portraiture, maybe reminiscent of the 1960s, and as the sitter leans toward us we are invited in. The subject is a mature and beautiful woman and we can see in this open face something of an inner light, perhaps life well lived, and her hands are active hands that have lived and worked,” said judge Naomi Cass.

Supported by the Dara Foundation, the Martin Kantor Portrait Prize is an acquisitive award for a photographic artwork of an influential, living Australian in the field of arts, letters, science, sports or politics.

The judging panel for this year’s award included Naomi Cass (director, Centre for Contemporary Photography), Isobel Crombie (assistant director, National Gallery of Victoria) and Leonard Vary (CEO, Myer Foundation).

Works by all the finalists will be on show in an exhibition at the Ballarat Town Hall.

Ballarat International Foto Biennale Martin Kantor Portrait Prize
Ballarat Town Hall
19 August – 17 September