This year women have won all three awards in the National Photographic Portrait Prize including the top prize, the Highly Commended award and the Art Handlers’ Award, which is selected by staff at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG).
Alana Holmberg took out the $30,000 National Photographic Portrait Prize with her colour portrait of an almost nude heavily pregnant woman, Greta in her Kitchen, 36 weeks. Holmberg also was awarded $22,000 worth of Canon equipment.
The 2019 National Photographic Portrait Prize was judged by Hoda Afshar, a Melbourne-based photographer who won in 2015; curator of photography at the National Gallery of Australia Anne O’Hehir; and Dr Christopher Chapman, senior curator at the NPG.
Chapman said of Holberg’s winning work, “This unconventional portrait is quiet and contemplative. The judges agreed that a compelling portrait photograph could be one that conveys a reflective moment experienced by many. The quality of light, the composition of the image and the subtle communication of the narrative combine to create an inner world.”
The Highly Commended work, Sumbawa pride – life on a boat with eleven kids by Alex Vaughan, also depicts motherhood. In her black-and-white photo, Vaughan focussed on a woman nursing an infant as the still centre of a boisterous family.
“The judges agreed that this is a joyous family portrait,” Chapman said. He then added, “Both images possess a cinematic quality.”
The Art Handlers’ Award went to Elizabeth Looker for her colour portrait of a woman in a see-through dress, A Calm So Deep.
Works by all 39 finalists are on show at the National Portrait Gallery until 7 April.
Voting for the People’s Choice Award closes 25 March.