The finalists for this year’s Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award have been announced, with 35 standing out among the record number of entrants from across the country.
The nation’s most loved and richest realistic portrait prize and carrying a $50,000 award, the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award is a non-acquisitive prize for realistic portraiture, held biennially at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery. The exhibition will launch on Friday, 26 October when the 2018 guest judge, art critic and broadcaster, Dr Andrew Frost, will select the winner from a strong field of contenders. 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 said. The selection committee consisted 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. History One of Australia's most loved and richest portrait awards, the biennial Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award celebrates realistic portraiture in memory of our eponymous patron. Hannan, a gifted portraitist, and well known in the Bega Valley as a staunch supporter and generous patron of the arts, funded the John Balmain National Award for Portraits and Figure Drawing from 1993 until she re-established it in her own name in 2002 with a substantially increased first prize of $15,000. A prerequisite for the award was made that those works selected to hang 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 to this day. Before her death in 2005, Hannan doubled the prize purse to $30,000 and it was decided to discard the figure drawing component of the prize, concentrating on portraiture alone. Hannan's husband, Brian Settle, established the Shirley Hannan Trust to perpetuate the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award as a biennial, national portrait prize with a focus on accurate depiction. In 2012, Hannan's son Peter, himself a talented photographer, paid further tribute to his mother's memory with a generous personal donation of an additional $20,000 bringing the prize purse for subsequent awards to $50,000.