Arts & Culture

Finalists shortlisted for prestigious Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award

Sharon Kelley20 June 2020
National Portrait Gallery director Karen Quinlan leaning on wall in gallery.

National Portrait Gallery director Karen Quinlan is a guest judge for the 2020 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award. Photo: Supplied.

A team of directors from regional art galleries have shortlisted 38 exceptional artists for final judging in the 2020 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award. The finalists have been selected from a field of 260 entries from around Australia, and the winner will be announced at a streamed launch event on Friday, 24 July.

Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG) director Iain Dawson said the calibre of this year’s entries is outstanding.

“We have artists from every state and territory vying for this prestigious portraiture event, indicative of the great pulling power of the award’s reputation,” he said.

“I sincerely thank the incredible ongoing generosity of Peter Hannan, son of our eponymous patron, for his support of the BVRG and acknowledge his commitment to his late mother’s passion for realistic portraiture.”

Now in its 18th year, the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award offers $50,000 in prize money. The 38 finalists were chosen by a panel comprising Mr Dawson, Mr Hannan and South East Arts CEO Andrew Gray. The winner will be selected by guest judge, National Portrait Gallery director Karen Quinlan.

Shirley Hannan was a gifted Bega Valley portraitist and a generous patron of the arts.

“She was very passionate about traditional portrait painting, which was her real field of interest and her passion,” said Mr Hannan of his mother establishing the award.

A prerequisite for the award is that works depict their subjects accurately without abstraction, and demonstrate a sound skill and knowledge of drawing and painting technique. The award was established with a specific and unremitting realist bent, which continues to this day.

Mr Dawson said Ms Quinlan has a long and distinguished history of leadership in the visual arts, as an art gallery director, curator, arts manager, educator and significant contributor to her community.

“Ms Quinlan has a well established commitment to portraiture,” said Mr Dawson. “For the past 18 years, she has been director of the Bendigo Art Gallery, serving as its curator for three years prior to that.

“Under her leadership, the Bendigo Art Gallery is now recognised internationally for the quality of its exhibitions, many undertaken with overseas partners such as the National Portrait Gallery in London.”

Mr Dawson said the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award contributes greatly to the standing of Bega Valley Regional Gallery as a place of importance when it comes to the arts.

All 38 finalist portraits can be viewed on the BVRG website.

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