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30 May 2023

Olive Cotton Award finalists announced

Another year of record entries for Australia-wide photographic award

Sam Ferris On the Way to inspections

Sam Ferris, On the way to inspections 2022, Digital Silver Gelatin print. Image courtesy: the Artist.

A total of 72 finalists have been selected for this year’s prestigious Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture.

The finalists were selected from a record 613 entries. Their work will be dislayed at Tweed Regional Gallery from Friday 14 July 2023.

Among the finalists’ protraits are well known artists Wendy Sharpe, Jude Rae, William Yang, Blak Douglas and the late Madeline Preston and John Olsen AO OBE. The selection also includes portraits of respected cultural figures from writer George Haddad, journalist Mervyn Bishop, politician Linda Burney, academics Marcia Langton and Dr Todd Fernando.

Guest judge, artist, curator and critic Dr Daniel Mudie Cunningham said:
“Photography has always been a necessary conduit for expressing diverse understandings of identity, social change and the human condition.
“The deeply entwined relationship of photography to portraiture and its ever-evolving form is what we see played out in the theatre of imagery comprising the finalists' works.

"Sparking conversations about First Nations’ sovereignty, race, place and migration, sexuality and gender, and mortality and time among many other hot topics, these images have a lasting impact, exposing something of the intimacy of the photographer to the sitter, and to us, the captive audience.” 

The artists are vying for a $20,000 award for the overall winner – to be announced at the awards night on Saturday 15 July from 5 pm. The announcement will be livestreamed on the Gallery’s Instagram channel.

Award Coordinator and Curator of Public Programs Meredith Cusack was pleased to see entries from first-time entrants as well as established artists.

“I am continually surprised and moved by the portraits we receive,” Ms Cusack said.

"What strikes me this year is the individual vision of entrants. From the cinematic to the intimate, we are transported into the worlds of others. Sometimes it is the sitters’ world that is revealed and in others we are aware it is the artists’ lens that frames what we see."

Regional photographers were well represented in the Olive Cotton Award with Jaka Adamic, Paul Blackmore, Aaron Chapman, Kristopher Cook, Luther Cora, Katherine Cordwell, Danielle Edwards, Jenny Fraser, Natalie Grono, Niki Morgan-Smith, Cassandra Scott-Finn, Craig Tuffin and Chelle Wallace among the finalists.

The finalists are also drawn from across Australia, including Dane Beesley, Gerwyn Davies, Stephen Dupont, M Ellen Burns, Juno Gemes, Yiorgos Zafiriou and a collaborative portrait by Jacqui Stockdale and Erica Green.

All 72 finalists will be on display at the Tweed Regional Gallery until Sunday 24 September. For a full list of finalists, visit: artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au/OliveCotton.

The Olive Cotton Award was launched in 2005 and is funded by Olive Cotton’s family and dedicated to her memory as one of Australia’s leading 20th Century photographers.

The Gallery is pleased to announce that Helen Ennis, one of Australia’s leading photography curators, historians and writers, will also be part of the Award's public program this year. Ennis is the author of a number of books on Olive Cotton including Olive Cotton: A life in photopgraphy (2019) and will be in conversation with Gallery Director Susi Muddiman OAM on the final day of the exhibition, Sunday 24 September.

To book a ticket for the 2023 Olive Cotton Award Opening & Award Annoucements: oca23.eventbrite.com.au.

To book a ticket for Helen Ennis In Conversation: HEnnis.eventbrite.com.au  

Katherine Cordwell - This is Blak Douglas

Katherine Cordwell, This Is Blak Douglas In Studio 2022, Inkjet print. Image courtesy: the Artist.


Photo 1: Sam Ferris, On the way to inspections 2022
Caption: Sam Ferris, On the way to inspections 2022, Digital Silver Gelatin print. Image courtesy: the Artist.

Photo 2: Katherine Cordwell, This is Blak Douglas
Caption: Katherine Cordwell, This Is Blak Douglas In Studio 2022, Inkjet print. Image courtesy: the Artist.

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Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre
2 Mistral Road (corner of Tweed Valley Way, Murwillumbah South)
PO Box 816 Murwillumbah, NSW 2484

The Gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm (Café 8:30 am to 4 pm).

Tweed Shire Council wishes to acknowledge the Ngandowal and Minyungbal speaking people of the Bundjalung Country, in particular the Goodjinburra, Tul-gi-gin and Moorung – Moobah clans, as being the traditional owners and custodians of the land and waters within the Tweed Shire boundaries. Council also acknowledges and respects the Tweed Aboriginal community’s right to speak for its Country and to care for its traditional Country in accordance with its lore, customs and traditions.
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