Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes has announced that Sydney-based artist Natasha Walsh is the recipient of the KILGOUR PRIZE 2018 for her intimate and delicate self-portrait Within the Studio (self-portrait) 2017.
The prize is Newcastle Art Gallery’s prestigious annual award for figurative and portrait painting and one of Australia's most lucrative art prizes.
The highly competitive award includes a $50,000 cash prize for the winning artist and a $5,000 People's Choice Award voted most popular by the public, funded by the bequest of artist Jack Noel Kilgour.
Walsh was announced as the 2018 winner at the launch of the KILGOUR PRIZE 2018 exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery on Friday 3 August.
The exhibition showcases the 30 finalists, and is on display from 4 August - 21 October 2018.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that the City of Newcastle is proud to have an annual national prize of this stature housed at Newcastle Art Gallery.
“The diversity and quality of the entries is impressive each year and the 2018 entrants are no exception. The reputation of the Kilgour Prize continues to grow, with the Prize attracting a large number of entrants and a significant audience to the gallery.
“I congratulate Ms Walsh on joining a prestigious list of accomplished artists to have taken out the Kilgour Prize.”
Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton said The Kilgour Prize encourages Australian artists to pursue - and to push the boundaries of - portraiture and figurative painting.
Each year, the three-judge panel includes the gallery director and two independent guest judges - this year's guest judges are Judith Blackall, curator and manager, National Art School Gallery Sydney, and local artist and educator Matthew Tome, head teacher at Newcastle Art School, Hunter TAFE.
The judges noted a striking range of subject matter, size and medium within this year's entries, with many unique interpretations of 'portrait and figurative painting.' This year's selected works were also varied in scale and composition, with entries from right across Australia.
"The judges commented about Natasha's oil on marble painting as an exquisite little treasure - a very delicate portrait by a dedicated artist," said Morton. "She has truly captured herself and she makes great use of the whole space, whereas some artists can have more real estate but not use it as effectively."
Walsh completed a Masters in Fine Art at the National Art School in Sydney last year. This is her first time entering the KILGOUR PRIZE and her work has been selected three times as a finalist in the Archibald Prize.
Natasha Walsh explains that her painting came about after she was secluded in her 'suitcase sized studio' for several months, where she was exploring the nature of the self-portrait.
"Beginning to feel quite trapped within this self-reflecting space, I conceived of this painting where my painted self is likewise trapped within the studio which has folded in on itself inside a convex lens," said the artist.
People's Choice Award
In addition to the overall prize, the KILGOUR PRIZE 2018 competition includes a People’s Choice Award of $5,000. Visitors can vote for the People's Choice Award at the Gallery until Wednesday 3 October 2018 and the winner will be announced Monday 8 October 2018.
The KILGOUR PRIZE 2018 exhibition is on at Newcastle Art Gallery from 4 August - 21 October 2018
Entry is free and photography is permitted.
Critic's Choice: from the collection
Displayed alongside the KILGOUR PRIZE 2018 is the exhibition CRITICS' CHOICE: from the collection featuring works of art selected from the Gallery's collection by Newcastle arts writers John Barnes and Jill Stowell.
On display from 4 August - 21 October 2018, the exhibition provides a rich history of painting the human figure and a fresh and unanticipated view into the Gallery's collection.
"Almost every major Australian artist since the start of the 19th century is represented by quality works in Newcastle Art Gallery's collection, so we saw this as an opportunity to dig deep to find seldom-seen paintings that reflect the constantly changing and evolving approaches to portraying the human figure," said John Barnes.
More information on the current year's exhibition:
Kilgour Prize FAQs, history and information about Jack Noel Kilgour:
About the winning artist
Born in Darlinghurst in 1994, Natasha Walsh is a young emerging artist currently based in Sydney.
She graduated with a Masters in Fine Art (Painting) from the National Art School in 2017.
In addition to winning the Kilgour Prize 2018, Walsh was recognized with the Emerging Artist Prize in the Mosman Art Prize 2015 and she has been a finalist in multiple years for the Archibald Prize, the Kilgour Prize, the Mosman Art Prize and the Waverley Art Prize.
Amanda Penrose Hart