11 September 2019

"Winning the Shirley Hannan would be a dream come true" - Bermagui's Bethany Thurtell

| Ian Campbell
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Jess Mara SA - Embrace (self-portrait with daughter). Photo: Supplied.

Jess Mara SA – Embrace (self-portrait with daughter). Photo: Supplied.

Four local artists have been selected as finalists in the nation’s most loved and richest realistic portrait prize the $50,000 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award.

Thirty-five finalist in total have been chosen from a record number of entrants from across the country.

Bega Valley Regional Gallery Director, Iain Dawson, praised the quality of entries.

“This year’s entries were our strongest ever and audiences will see works from past winners, Archibald Prize finalists, and many of Australia’s best-known portraitists,” Mr Dawson says.

Bermagui's Bethany Thurtell - Subjective. Photo: Supplied.

Bermagui’s Bethany Thurtell – Subjective. Photo: Supplied.

The selection committee was made up of Brisbane based gallery director, Edwina Corlette; influential art collector and architect, Ross Bonthorne; Alaska Projects Director, Sebastian Goldspink; and International Art Services Business Development Manager, Alison Guthrie; along with members of the Hannan family.

The four local finalists are, Bega’s Tim Moorhead with ‘Cincuenta Man Self Portrait’, Bermagui’s Bethany Thurtell with ‘Subjective’, Eden’s Joseph O’Gara with ‘Weary Warrior”, and Bibbenlukes’s Lucy Culliton with ‘Jamie’.

“Winning the Shirley Hannan would be the pinnacle of my painting career so far. It would be a dream come true to use a cliche,” Ms Thurtell says.

“Portraits are my favourite subject.”

Bega's Tim Moorhead - Cincuenta Man Self Portrait. Photo: Supplied.

Bega’s Tim Moorhead – Cincuenta Man Self Portrait. Photo: Supplied.

Ms Thurtell has lived in the Bega Valley for the last 16 years, “and painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. My day job is a teacher,” she says.

A semi-finalist last year in the $150,000 Moran Portrait Prize and a past prize winner in the Meroogal Women’s Art Prize, Ms Thurtell has entered the Shirley Hannan for the last 10 years, but this is the first time she has been selected as a finalist.

“My reaction to the news? Pure joy!” she says.

“I have been painting portraits by commission for many years, [this year for the Hannan] I entered two portraits of my daughter.

“They are both life-size oil portraits showing two different moods, one thoughtful and one quietly happy.”

It was the more thoughtful of the two selected by the judges.

Bibbenlukes's Lucy Culliton - Jamie. Photo: Supplied.

Bibbenlukes’s Lucy Culliton – Jamie. Photo: Supplied.

“My daughter’s name is Elise and she is at Wollongong Uni completing her PhD in Education. It’s the portrait she likes best as well!” Ms Thurtell says.

“I have been painting her portrait for many years, in many poses showing many different moods.

“This portrait is part of a series of strong, resilient women that have sat for me. She is a fantastic supporter of my art and is always willing to sit for me as I try out new compositions.”

The four locals in amongst a strong field of 35 cements the region’s reputation as a hotspot for artistic prowess.

The 2018 finalists are:

Sally Ryan NSW – Yassmin
Kim Leutwyler NSW – Jess Red and Green
Melissa Ritchie NSW – Game Face
Lucy Culliton NSW – Jamie
Jess Mara SA – Embrace (self-portrait with daughter)
Claire Bridge VIC – Brave not perfect
Carla Fletcher VIC – John Butler
Kerry McInnis NSW – Mantelpiece Treasure
Lisa Axiotis VIC – Reverence
Bronwyn Hill QLD – Segments
Ellie Kammer SA – Caitlin Stasey, Herself
Genevieve Gadd VIC – Portrait of Alicia
Christine Wrest Smith VIC – Portrait of Robert Hague
Marie Mansfield NSW – The Hyper-realist
Matteo Bernasconi NSW – Sweat and Blood, portrait of Robert Whittaker
Adoni Astrinakis VIC – Saroo
Nick Stathopoulos NSW – Σε γνωρίζω I recognise you
Peter Smeeth NSW – I am watching you 2
Ross Potter WA – 10 Years
Phil James NSW – David James Griggs
Geoff Lonergan NSW – Martin Cooper – My life in ruins
Sean Hutton NSW – A Meditation on peace
Kevin Goldenbrut VIC – Liberty
Joseph O’Gara NSW – Weary warrior
Warren Crossett VIC – My firstborn (Rebecca)
Mathew Lynn NSW – á présent – Justine Ndayi
Alun Rhys Jones NSW – Ian
Tim Moorhead NSW – Cincuenta Man Self Portrait
Ross Townsend ACT – Always Creating
Marcus Callum NSW – The Green Man
Todd Simpson VIC – Nice Garry
Julian Aubrey Smith VIC – Assailed
Tsering Hannaford SA – Portrait of Mrs Singh
Bethany Thurtell NSW – Subjective
Daevid Anderson WA – Sheila

The Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award is a non-acquisitive prize for realistic portraiture held biennially at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery.

Mrs Hannan, was a gifted portraitist in her own right and well known in the Bega Valley as a generous patron of the arts.

Eden' Joseph O’Gara - Weary Warrior. Photo: Supplied.

Eden’ Joseph O’Gara – Weary Warrior. Photo: Supplied.

The Award her name now takes has its roots as the John Balmain National Award for Portraits and Figure Drawing which Mrs Hannan funded from 1993. She re-energised the idea in 2002 and substantially increased first prize to $15,000.

Before her death in 2005, Mrs Hannan doubled the purse to $30,000. In 2012, Peter Hannan, himself a talented photographer, paid further tribute to his mum’s memory adding an extra $20,000, taking first prize to $50,000.

The Shirley Hannan Trust establish by Mrs Hannan’s husband Brian Settle sustains the Award as a biennial, national portrait prize with a focus on accurate depiction.

Peter Smeeth NSW - I am watching you 2. Photo: Supplied.

Peter Smeeth NSW – I am watching you 2. Photo: Supplied.

Works selected as finalists must depict their subjects accurately 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 in 2018.

The exhibition will launch on Friday, October 26 when the 2018 guest judge, art critic and broadcaster, Dr Andrew Frost, will select the winner.

You can view all finalists on the Bega Valley Regional Gallery website.

Ross Townsend ACT - Always Creating. Photo: Supplied.

Ross Townsend ACT – Always Creating. Photo: Supplied.

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