14 Nov 2015 to 7 Feb 2016

The KILGOUR PRIZE is an annual art prize for figurative and portrait painting that awards $50,000 for the most outstanding work of art. A People’s Choice is also awarded of $5000 to the painting voted most popular by the general public.

Jack Noel Kilgour (1900–1987) was an Australian artist well-known for his academic approachto landscape and portrait painting. His contemporaries included Jean Bellette, William Dobell, Paul Haefliger, Eric Wilson and his wife Nancy Kilgour, with whom he established a significant artistic partnership. His works are well represented in the Newcastle Art Gallery collection, as well as in other significant state and national collections.

In 1987 Kilgour bequeathed funds for the creation of a major figurative and portrait art competition to be run in perpetuity at Newcastle Art Gallery. As one of Australia’s major art prizes, the KILGOUR PRIZE continues a long history of benefaction to the Gallery.

The entries will be assessed by two independent judges, Angus Trumble, Director National Portrait Gallery, Proffessor Ross Woodrow, Director Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research as well as Lauretta Morton, Manager Newcastle Art Gallery.

The inaugural recipient of the KILGOUR PRIZE 2006 was Sydney-based artist Nicholas Harding with his work Beach Life. Later winners include Dallas Bray who won consecutively in 2008 and 2010. Last year's winner of the KILGOUR PRIZE 2014 was Alan Jones with his painting of distant convict relative titled Robert Forrester #2.

The KILGOUR PRIZE is financed by the Jack Noel Kilgour bequest is administered by The Trust Company, Part of Perpetual.

KILGOUR PRIZE 2015 Winner and People's Choice

KILGOUR PRIZE 2015 Winner: Janelle Thomas 'Helen Ross, 94 with Kirsty' 2015
People's Choice: Loribelle SPIROVSKI 'Splendour in the grass' 2015

Janelle Thomas Artist Statement: 
At 94, Mrs Helen Ross brims with vitality and dignity. I admire Helen’s spirit and contribution to her community as she tirelessly organises and assists local groups. For example, rallying a group that saved the local library from closing. Helen published her 1st novel at age 88. Helen’s latest book, 'Short Stories' 2014, captures some of her rich life experiences. Born 1921 in Scotland, Helen travelled worldwide and now lives on the NSW Central Coast. Helen lived through the blitz in London, then in Germany, where her husband Archie was a Prosecutor in the Nuremburg Trials. Helen worked for the Save the Children Fund in Edinburgh and Germany.

While I was painting, Kirsty, Helen’s beloved companion from Monika’s Rescue, jumped on Helen’s lap to counterbalance the composition perfectly. As they each gaze in opposite directions, both seem lost in reverie about a life well lived. While I painted, Helen recounted fascinating experiences from her life. I minimised the background to focus the portrait on Helen and her bond with Kirsty. Helen credits Kirsty with saving her life after Archie, her beloved husband of 66 years, passed away. Helen and Kirsty were ideal portrait subjects as they both sat graciously and held a very steady pose.


2015 Finalists

Michael Bell
Phil Barron
Euan Macleod
Vivian Falk
Liz Stute
Matthew Quick
Jenny Watson
Mark Berryman
Peter Boggs
Jude Hotchkiss
Paul Maher
Ben Smith
Rex Turnbull
Janelle Thomas
Geoff Harvey
Loribelle Spirovski
Pablo Tapia
Graeme               Drendel
Marie Hagerty
Tom Phillips
Joe Frost
Neil Frazer
Tony Costa
Jenny Rodgerson
Matilda Michell
Dianne  Ingram
Melissa Ritchie
Peter Smeeth
Jo Ernst
Graeme Balchin


Newcastle Art Gallery
1 Laman Street
Cooks Hill