The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize encourages the development of the portraiture skills of Australian artists and increases the awareness and appreciation of Australian visual arts. It seeks the best artistic skills that artists have in the promotion of Australian arts at a given point in time.
The Prize is Australia’s richest portrait prize ($150,000 first prize in 2022) capturing Australians from all walks of life, whether public figures or not. The competition is open to Australian citizens or residents of at least 12 months.
2022 Finalist Gallery
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CORBAN CLAUSE WILLIAMS
Oil, 50 x 40 cm
This artwork represents Corban Clause Williams, a young and popular emerging Martu Artist and young leader. The artist, Owen John (OJ) Biljabu is a proud Martu man from the Western Deserts, which range from Newman to Kunawarritji. Traditionally, Martu artists are not known for portraiture, however OJ has chosen to use traditional oil painting techniques to depict his community, other Martu artists and important figures in his life. He is currently the only member of Martumili artists to do this, and is forging his own path with his self taught techniques
MY OWN WORST ENEMY
Acrylic, 235 x 176 cm
When thinking about my paintings I beat myself up, overthinking things, often getting myself wound up about the finish and when and how my work should be finished. Having one figure super quick and leaving it, then the other more resolved addresses this, but still they work together as a whole painting.
THE IMAGINATIVE HISTORIAN, SELF PORTRAIT
Oil, 165 x 140 cm
Known for my painting, I have made a recent transition into comic making. A surprise to most, except anyone I grew up with. My fictional comics are based on historic events and musical referencing. My debut graphic novel, New York City GLOW: A snake, an octopus and the near death of Johnny Ramone. The almost true account of the 1977 New York City blackout is being released next year.
This portrait is my 2022 self, depicted in a fictional childhood setting, reflecting the state of mind in which my comic-making imagination exists. Described by my publisher as an ‘unbridled imaginative historian.
KINGS CROSS STUDIO
Oil, 102 x 138 cm
The subject is Chris Field, an artist’s life model who began working during the pandemic, he is also a writer and has cerebral palsy. Chris is one of those people whose presence is immediately remarkable due to his quiet intelligence, warmth, and tranquility - a compelling subject to paint.
Oil, 115 x 86 cm
A portrait of Graeme Drendel, oil on Belgian linen painted at Vale Street Studio in 2022. It was painted over five sessions from life. Graeme asked me to sit for a small portrait recently and so I agreed with the prospect of painting him as well. We have a good rapport and both being painters, are sympathetic to the process and needs of the portraitist.
SELF PORTRAIT WEARING A HAT
Oil, 58 x 48 cm
This is a self-portrait painted from life, looking at a mirror. Self-portraiture is an interesting and challenging pursuit. There is nowhere to hide, the introspection and isolation of the studio is amplified during the process. It is however a wonderful opportunity for reflection and meditation.
I chose this frontal pose to emphasise this vulnerability and to position myself towards and with the viewer. The lighting is also frontally positioned to enhance the possibility for connection. The background is painted to represent a sense of being in the shaded space beneath a tree.
PORTRAIT OF LEWIS MILLER
Oil, 30 x 26 cm
Normally I would complete a portrait in a single session, but getting a good likeness of Lewis proved elusive and a desperate third sitting was required. Eventually the painting fell into place somehow and during the process the conversation, the music and the soup was super.
Winner - 2022 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize
Oil, 81 x 66 cm
Painting anyone is a complicated matter. The fear of unfairly representing someone often sits heavily on me. Never am I more relieved of responsibility and expectation than when I paint myself. I have painted many self portraits. They have become an important part of my practice. They serve as a periodic shaking off of inhibitions. They also serve as a moment to check in with myself, to think about how I see myself on any given day. I painted this after a month away from the studio. Emerging from hibernation feeling a little dusty and dazed and a little trepidatious.
JOHN BREWSTER – THE ANGELS
Oil, 148 x 104 cm
John Brewster is the founding member and guitarist of seminal Australian rock band, The Angels. They formed in 1974 and are still touring today. They are a treasure of Australian music history.
Last year I invited John to his old school, St Peter’s College. Along with Angels singer Dave Gleeson and a staff band, The Angels hit ‘Marseille’ was performed to the school receiving momentous applause. After leaving school 50 years ago, I think it felt like a homecoming for John. This year I had studio sittings with John. Our time together resulted in John playing his beloved 56’ Gretsch.
THE WAR WIDOW
Oil, 40 x 30 cm
My Mother the war widow fighting the final, slow and lonely battle near the end of her life. It’s tough, to say the least, as she wishes to be with her now deceased husband who fought in the Pacific during WWII. She’s in good health for an 84 year old, so might live for many more years. As a small child my Mother often hid in bomb shelters during WWII air raids in England. Her life has been affected by her childhood which was poor, cold, religious and frightening.
SELF PORTRAIT IN PINK ROOM
Charcoal/Pastels, 92 x 72 cm
In this self portrait, I’ve placed myself in a fantasy interior reminiscent of the pink rooms I often like to draw and paint in my art practice. I have depicted myself wearing a jumper I knitted that is very sentimental to me. At the time I was making the jumper I remember thinking how knitting was similar to painting and drawing because it’s a meditative process and I was weaving together lines of colour to create something new.
Oil, 111 x 61 cm
This painting shows me four weeks post-chemo for breast cancer, a difficult journey. There was the fear that comes with a brush with mortality and I was so unwell physically. But not all of it was bad. So many people were supportive, helping me, from medical staff to family and friends. I felt emotionally replenished despite being so unwell.
Going through cancer changes you. Although I’m looking more like me again with my hair growing back and skin clearer, inside I will always be a little changed with a brilliant appreciation of all the beauty in life.
SCARS OF AN ARTIST
Mixed Media, 120 x 100 cm
My optometrist told me that I have a condition called pinguecula. It’s basically a callous on my eyes from too much sun, dust and wind. There is no way to make it better, I can only stop it from getting worse. At this point, it’s more of a cosmetic problem, but if it expands into the pupil my vision can be affected. My wife said that it’s kind of appropriate that I now have callouses on my eyes as well as my hands, the two parts of me that get the most wear and tear as an artist.
KEEPING US HEALTHY THROUGH SCIENCE
Oil, 100 x 94 cm
I wanted to concentrate on Ian Frazer’s face as I think it shows the years of dedication he has given to science while staying humble throughout the process.
Professor Ian Frazer AC is an Australian immunologist, whose research led to the development of a vaccine against the human papillomavirus that causes most cervical cancers. Frazer was Australian of the Year in 2006, the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science and the Balzan Prize. In 1985 he took up a teaching position with the University of Queensland and went on to be the founding CEO and Director of TRI, The Translational Research Institute, an Australian-first initiative involving patients, clinicians and researchers working together to solve health challenges faster.
PORTRAIT OF JAN SENBERGS
Oil, 48 x 63 cm
This is a portrait of my longtime artist friend Jan Senbergs.
I have had regular meetings with Jan for the last 29 years, at least once a month we would catch up and talk about art and life. He has been a wonderful and loyal friend for all those years.
Oil, 34 x 49 cm
At this sitting, David McAllister AC was director of The Australian Ballet. Stepping out of a rehearsal and being required at meetings, David made time for me.
Always aware of the future and past, passionate about dance and his artists, the strength of his focus and pure joy of his art is always present. Determined and driven, David also possesses a softness, warmth and understanding. He is inspirational. These qualities must have helped him be successful as principal artist and dance partner too.
The world, and so many of us, have transformed post-COVID. David continues to transform and inspire.
Oil, 73 x 63 cm
Ron Ramsey was the Executive Director of the Art Gallery Society NSW until he retired in June 2021. His wealth of experience in art museums across three decades includes the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia and Director of the Newcastle Art Gallery from 2007 to 2014. Ron was also Australia’s Cultural Attaché at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC from 2004 to 2007.
This portrait captures his focus of possibly a complex decision coming together in a singular moment with an optimistic conclusion. This is well expressed and emphasized by the presence of his left fist!
WARREN ELLIS PORTRAIT STUDY
Oil, 85 x 70 cm
Australian musician Warren Ellis is a big inspiration whose music is always on rotation in my studio. He is a successful composer on the world stage and member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Dirty Three. I have painted a couple of portraits of Warren over the years and in this work I’ve tried to capture his relaxed and generous personality. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Warren a little bit and met him here in Australia and where he lives in Paris and through our interactions he has always been the most generous and thoughtful person, which I have hopefully captured in this work.
SOLILOQUY (SELF PORTRAIT)
Oil, 100 x 100 cm
Throughout the dramas of life, my home and studio provide a sanctuary. Peace and calm in tumultuous times. Quiet solitude in which to process the current comings and goings.
The mirror is confronting while the painting takes shape from the inside. I paint an array of what surrounds me on a daily basis, but the essence of my portrait is what is not visible.
NAVIGATING A NEW WORLD
Acrylic/Oil, 140 x 100 cm
Kim Leutwyler is a champion to many. An artist who creates paintings of LGBTQ+ identified and allied people, relating to human diversity and struggle, illuminating and celebrating its unique and glorious raw beauty through her art. Humanity desperately needs the Kims of this world; they teach us how to be better humans.
I’ve painted Kim as a Queen, a leader, as she’s considered royalty by her community. I am a better person/artist for having this beautiful jewel in my life.
SWEETNESS AND SARDINES
Acrylic/Oil/Pencil, 171 x 127 cm
“Sweetness and Sardines” combines the surprise of the two extreme flavours, the epitome of Annie O’Shannessy. Packed onto every centimetre of the picture are the energy and symbols of a life’s light, darkness, growth and death and the intertwining of emotions. The offer of a cup of tea, of personal engagement, is pressed upon the viewer with the colours of shadows bouncing off each other.
Acrylic, 75 x 98 cm
Every year my father (who’s 80) visits my family for a week from New South Wales. Without fail, at the same time every day, he would religiously do his crossword. Nothing else mattered, he would be oblivious to anything or anyone around him. It fascinated me, his intense concentration, expressive hands and guarded posture. I wanted to capture a spontaneous impression, using bold lines and minimal detail.
Oil, 54.5 x 44 cm
This portrait of my partner ‘Shiny’, as his cross-dressing persona is known, is part of my current creative works focusing on cross-dressing. They explore how hegemonic scripts and gender binaries create structures of exclusion that leave many cross-dressing men facing discrimination and marginalisation. Through these creative works, I want to challenge established stereotypes to redefine their behaviour not as a perversion shackled to its psychoanalytic taxonomies but as a performance of gender with the ‘fetish’ simply the embodiment of a lived body experience.
A DECADE IN AFGHANISTAN
Oil, 76 x 101 cm
This is a portrait of award-winning photojournalist Andrew Quilty. He has spent the last decade in Afghanistan documenting the country’s many changing seasons including last year’s fall of Kabul when the US Armed Forces withdrew their troops. Quilty was one of few photojournalists who stayed during this dangerous time and has just released his book ‘August in Kabul’ which tells the stories of people on the ground including civilians and members of the Taliban during this time. I wanted this painting to depict the earthy, rugged and raw tones of the country.
MAUDIE: PORTRAIT OF MAUDIE PALMER
Oil, 198 x 124 cm
In this portrait Maudie Palmer AO stands on the banks of the Birrarung River. The painting seeks to celebrate her charisma and presence by depicting her in the pose of Gainsborough’s iconic portrait Blue Boy, c.1770. Through the chromatic impact of her blue costume, usually associated with male privilege, she is elevated as a powerful contemporary woman in a ground-breaking role, working to critically explore post-colonial culture and promote environmental awareness. Against a stormy landscape, this portrait highlights the independent spirit required of a founding gallery director and how past visual languages can be transformed in a contemporary Australian context.
CONCEPT, ACTION, CRITIQUE EVERT PLOEG
Oil, 94 x 64 cm
Evert Ploeg is portrayed in his favorite environment. The portrait presents the heroics of conception, intense action of painting and the reflective darkness of self-critique. My style tends to use light to separate ideas, in this painting very blatantly separating the conception and execution.
Acrylic, 183 x 137 cm
In 2018 Tony and I did a TV interview at the ABC studios in Sydney. There was a Bananas in Pyjamas cutout that you could put your head through, so we got a photo as the blackfella bananas! Reflecting today, what started as a bit of fun was actually important. Growing up, I never saw many Aboriginal people on children’s TV shows. My daughters are growing up now and it’s been good for them to see more Aboriginal faces on TV. Who knows, maybe one day children will be watching the ‘Blackfella Bananas’ starring me and Tony!