Lee Grant wins National Photographic Portrait Prize


Lee Grant has been awarded the National Photographic Portrait Prize for her black-and-white portrait Charlie, and Filomena Rizzo was highly commended for the photograph of her daughter, My Olivia.

Both works were praised for their “power of humanness” by co-judge of the award Dr Christopher Chapman, who is senior curator at the National Portrait Gallery.

“It felt as though the distilling process was to extract truth – that we narrowed down the images that felt true,” said co-judge and photographer Ms Petrina Hicks of the judging.

Charlie and My Olivia also tell a story of young people encountering the world. “It’s like both subjects are facing futures that are uncertain. And they’re doing so bravely,” said co-judge and curator at the Art Gallery of Western Australia Mr Robert Cook. “It’s the bravery that you have when you’re afraid, when you yourself might crumble and you figure there’s only a fifty/fifty shot at making it through. What the artists have done here is present this dilemma, one we all get on some level, with compassion, without artifice and without false heroics.”

“I can’t quite put into words how grateful I am,” said Grant on receiving the award. “I have been a Canberra girl for most of my life, so there is an extra personal significance in being able to share this work in my old hometown in one of the country’s most esteemed and respected institutions.”

Rizzo said of her work, “The portrait of Olivia was taken in the Redwood Forest, a very magical place. I didn’t see the real significance of the image until some weeks later. The image shows vulnerability and sadness, but mostly I see strength and a bond only we two share. My girls are by far my greatest teachers.”

Grant was awarded $30,000 cash from the Portrait Gallery, lighting equipment from Profoto and paper supplies from Ilford. Rizzo will receive an Eizo monitor valued at $4,000.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 Art Handlers’ Award was presented to Stephanie Simcox for her portrait Joey, which depicts a man relaxing post-work in a local waterhole in the Central Desert Region.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize is open to the public until 17 June before touring to regional locations.

The public can vote for their favourite work for the People’s Choice award online here.

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2018
National Portrait Gallery
24 March – 17 June

News Words by Zara Sigglekow