Encouraging entries for the new Northern Rivers Portrait Prize are (from front) Lismore Regional Gallery curator Kezia Geddes, Northern Rivers Echo general manager Heather Williams and David Wolf from Walters Solicitors.
Encouraging entries for the new Northern Rivers Portrait Prize are (from front) Lismore Regional Gallery curator Kezia Geddes, Northern Rivers Echo general manager Heather Williams and David Wolf from Walters Solicitors.

Face first into new portrait prize

From the very dawn of civilisation, way back even before Facebook and MySpace, portraiture was used to celebrate the many remarkable faces of a community.

Today the Archibald is a much-anticipated annual portrait prize that celebrates Australian identities, but what of those closer to home, the many people whose good deeds make the Northern Rivers what it is?

From our lady Mayor to the humble volunteer at the soup kitchen or the mum who works at the school canteen, there are thousands of people whose everyday actions give life, colour and meaning to our region.

So it is with great pride that the Lismore Regional Gallery has announced the new Northern Rivers Portrait Prize – celebrating our own famous and not-so-famous faces.

The prize gives artists the opportunity to create new works and exhibit publicly, and with an acquisitive first prize of $7,500 sponsored by The Northern Rivers Echo and Walters Solicitors, it certainly makes putting brush to canvas worthwhile.

“The Northern Rivers has a community of remarkable people, from writers to doctors, charity workers to tradespeople, business people to activists, mums, dads and many other amazing people,” Lismore Regional Gallery curator Kezia Geddes said. “Each individual contributes, in a small or large way, to enriching our lives and making the Northern Rivers an inspirational place to live. We anticipate this annual prize will be one of the most significant events on the local arts calendar and will demonstrate the pride we all feel in our community.”

Echo general manager Heather Williams said when The Echo approached the gallery to re-establish an annual portrait prize and look for sponsors, the response was enthusiastic, with several individuals and businesses immediately pledging support.

“There are few jobs that bring you into contact with so many different faces than working at a local community newspaper,” Mrs Williams said. “Celebrating the achievements of the people who live on the Northern Rivers is part of what The Echo does every day, so the portrait prize seemed like a natural event for us to help reinvigorate. The Echo has always been a great supporter of the arts, and this prize brings two of the paper’s great loves – art and people – together.”

The first annual portrait prize in Lismore was the City of Lismore Art Prize, which was an acquisitive prize and a prime source of acquiring works for the collection until the competition was discontinued in 1982. Margaret Olley was one of the artists who was encouraged by the prize in her early career, being awarded 100 guineas for her still life Lilies and Grapes, painted in 1958. The prize later became the Living Treasures Art Prize until that was discontinued in 2003.

The prize often attracted controversy, but it always brought people together to think, to discuss, to ponder and to look upon the many faces that make our community.

The Northern Rivers Portrait Prize offers three awards:

The $7,500 Northern Rivers Echo and Walters Solicitors Overall Winner.

The $1000 Andrew and Jeni Binns Emerging Artist Award.

The $500 Lismore Regional Gallery Peoples’ Choice Award.

Artist entry forms are currently available from Lismore Regional Gallery, online at www.lismoregallery.org or at selected galleries, cafes, and shops in the region.

Entries close on February 26, 2010, and a panel of judges will select the finalist artworks in March. The exhibition of finalists will be held at the Lismore Regional Gallery from April 23 to May 29 with the winners announced on opening night on Friday, April 23.

For more information, phone the gallery on 6622 2209.


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