Pensini with the her work Pride and Prejudice 2018 oil on canvas 101 x 121 cm, the People's Choice in the 2018 Kilgour Prize.
Artist Lori Pensini’s depiction of her cousins, Tyler and Georgia, tells a broader story of race relations in early Australia and was painted following her Western Australian family's “recent discovery of indigenous lineage”.
The intimate and loving portrait of the girls in matching striped dresses has been voted the People's Choice in Newcastle Art Gallery's KILGOUR PRIZE 2018 exhibition.
The 'social & political prejudices of the colonial era' - acknowledges the artist's statement - saw her ancestors conceal two sons’ marriages to local Noongar women, denying latter generations all knowledge of the unions that ultimately spawned Pensini’s contrasting subjects.
Lori PENSINI Pride and Prejudice 2018 oil on canvas 101 x 121 cm
Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton hailed the public's decision, the skill Pensini employed to convey intimacy, and context and broader social narrative of the work.
“I'm not surprised that visitors have responded so favourably to this work,” Morton said.
"It becomes apparent when viewing this intimate portrait that the artist has a strong connection to the subjects, and her deft skill in rendering their striped dresses further unifies the strong bond between the cousins."
One in 10 of voters in the People’s Choice award selected Pensini's painting and a number of them proffered positive critiques, including:
- 'Conveys such an enormous history so simply in its subjects'
- 'I loved the women's faces. A feeling of contentment and love between each other. Beautiful piece of art that assume two persons seem one.'
- 'To me this painting conveys a serenity between two people. Clearly these girls share a lot of caring, peace and understanding. Reminds me bit of aspects of the film Picnic At Hanging Rock. Thank you.'
Pensini, 48, receives $5,000 from the bequest of local artist Jack Noel Kilgour.
The major figurative and portrait art competition he left behind for Newcastle Art Gallery in 1987 is now one of Australia’s most renowned.
The official annual prize, hosted by the Gallery, offers aspiring artists a level and lucrative playing field - as paintings are judged without attribution - before the winner is awarded $50,000.
Sydney artist Natasha Walsh’s intimate and delicate self-portrait Within the Studio (self-portrait) 2017 earned this year’s prize.
She followed up the success with the 2018 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship and 2018 Mosman Art Prize.
The KILGOUR PRIZE 2018 exhibition will remain on display at the Gallery until 21 October.
2018 FINALISTS (complete list)
Amanda Penrose Hart