Portia Geach Memorial Award

Celebrating female Australian artists

The Portia Geach Memorial Award is a celebration of female Australian artists. It’s Australia’s most prestigious portrait prize for female artists and has greatly contributed to the development of female artists in this country.

It was established by Florence Kate Geach in 1961 in memory of her sister, Portia Geach and is awarded each year to the best portrait painted from life of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters or the Sciences.

2014 Award


Sydney-based artist Sophie Cape has been announced as the winner of the 2014 Portia Geach Memorial Award, the preeminent portraiture prize for women in Australia.

As trustee of the Award, the Trust Company, part of Perpetual, presented Ms Cape with the $30,000 prize for her portrait of actor Daniel Wyllie, entitled Romper Stomper. Ms Cape, a former international downhill skier and Olympic sprint cyclist, received the Award this evening at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks.

Reflecting on her Award win, Ms Cape said: “As a female artist striving to make strong works, I am honoured and humbled to be listed alongside the grand list of talented women who have inspired and encouraged me in my journey as a painter. Having a brilliant artist as a mother who has been a finalist many times, I always saw The Portia Geach growing up as the ultimate commendation for Australian female painting. So I am incredibly grateful for the encouragement, support and belief of the judges and the Portia Geach Memorial Award.”

On Ms Cape’s outstanding portrait, the judges said: “Cape’s work is made with a gusto and strength that belies the intense repose of the sitter, Daniel Wyllie. The painting rides a perilous visual journey that flirts with failure but eventually sings a powerful and arresting ballad. Cape is a promising young Sydney artist whose confidence and risk-taking is fittingly rewarded in this prize.”


Sophie Cape

Romper Stomper

Highly Commended

The judges also selected two highly commended works from a strong field of finalists. Tsering Hannaford for her work Objet Démodé and Prudence Flint for her work Tartan Blanket


Tsering Hannaford

Objet Démodé


Prudence Flint

Tartan Blanket


A list of 48 finalists has been announced today, Thursday 16 October 2014, for the country’s most revered portrait prize for female artists, the Portia Geach Memorial Award. This year more than 300 entries were received – the highest number of entries in the past five years

Commenting on the shortlist of finalists, the judging panel said: “Painting is alive and well amongst the new generation of female artists in Australia and this list of finalists reads like a who’s who of the future of Art in this country.

The judging panel for this year’s award comprised of: Director S.H Ervin Gallery, Jane Watters; Artist and Trustee of Art Gallery of New South Wales Ben Quilty; and Trustee of Art Gallery of New South Wales, Samantha Meers.

Perpetual General Manager of Philanthropy Andrew Thomas said “Privately funded awards such as the Portia Geach Memorial Award are essential to recognising and supporting the talent of Australian female artists. As trustee of the award, we are proud to be part of such an important contribution to the arts community.”

Congratulations to the 2014 finalists.

Full Name Title of Work Name of Sitter
Clara Adolphs Laura Laura Jones
Danelle Bergstrom FACE IT John Waters
Jo Bertini The Bone Collector self
Cynthia Breusch Night Studio Self
Gina Bruce Self-portrait emerging Self-portrait Gina Bruce
Agnes Bruck Smart Phone SElf Portrait Agnes Bruck
Filippa Buttitta Lost Child Somewhere Near Mount Carcalgong, NSW Paloma (my only daughter)
Cynthia Byrne Jo Dreaming in her White Space Joanne Lewis
Ann Cape The last portrait of my mother Gwenna Thatcher
Sophie Cape Romper Stomper Daniel Wylie
Genevieve Carroll The Wattle Room – Self Portrait Genevieve Carroll
Dagmar Cyrulla Life Love and All that it Brings Michael Cathcart and Hannie Rayson
Sinead Davies Anna NU 2. 2014 Anna Volskja-Bell
Sinead Davies Self Portrait Sinead Davies
Tamara Dean Mirra Mirra Whale
Carmel Debreuil The Lion and the King Jaida King
Katherine Edney Beloved Man Goat (David Adam Capra) 2 David Capra
Melissa Egan Self portrait/ My Other Self /Edmund Theermine. Edmund Theermine
Esther Erlich Brace Position Abbey Church
Prudence Flint Tartan Blanket Athena Bellas
Jennifer Gabbay True Blue Phil Foster
Virginia Glover Kath Giovanelli – painter printmaker Kath Giovanelli
Tsering Hannaford Objet Démodé Tsering Hannaford (self portrait)
Kristin Hardiman Medicae manus Professor Gordian Fulde
Pamela Irving Grace Reflecting Lambert Grace Costanzo
Laura Jones Mirra Mirra Whale
Nicole Kelly Il a écouté et fumé Steve Hunter
Janis Lander “Some people aren’t worth the carbon that they’re based on.” #2 Trent Marden
Symone Male Aureole Aureole Mc Alpine
Rosalind McKelvey Bunting Self-Portrait of a young woman questioning Rosalind McKelvey Bunting
Eve D’Alessandro Procrastipainting – this is me to a tea Eve D’Alessandro
Matilda Michell Mike Nock live at Colbourne Avenue Mike Nock
Alexandra Mowday Self Portrait Alexandra Mowday
Lisa Reid Heidi Victoria Hon Heidi Victoria MLA
Audrey Rhoda Self-portrait with mariola in her studio Audrey Rhoda / Mariola Smarzak
Jenny Rodgerson Jasper Jasper Banks
Megan Roodenrys A Private Place in a Public Life Penny Wong
Wendy Sharpe Self Portrait with a ridiculous hat Wendy Sharpe self
Loribelle Spirovski After Warhol, After Vermeer Loribelle Spirovski
Kate Stevens Everyday Hero Jonny Beale
Jill Talbot Empty nesting Self Jill Talbot
Janelle Thomas Richard bot Richard de Nys
Chloe Vallance Your Art Is True To Your Philosophy (Godwin Bradbeer Triptych Godwin Bradbeer
Deborah Walker The Designer (Gabrielle) Gabrielle Forsell
Sally West Farmer Bill (Heffernan) Bill Heffernan
Mirra Whale red self Mirra Whale
Leigha White I am Alannah Hill Alannah Hill
Michelle Zuccolo Self portrait – crossing continents Michelle Zuccolo

Details for the 2015 Award will be released in mid 2015.

Past Winners


2013 Award

The Trust Company, as Trustee, announced Hélène Grove  as winner of Australia’s most famed portrait prize for women – the Portia Geach Memorial Award – for herself portrait entitled Self Portrait. Getting On on 3 October 2013

Self Portrait. Getting On was selected by the judges from 267 entries. Ms Grove was presented her $30,000 prize by The Trust Company at a ceremony held at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks. The exhibition including all 58 finalists is open for viewing by the public until 16 November at the S.H. Ervin Gallery.

The judges also wished to highly commend Celeste Chandler’s portrait Lovesick 3 for its luscious painterly qualities and unconventional approach to portraiture.


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Hélène Grove

I’m fading with old age.

Getting a kitten and painting helps

Highly Commended

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Celeste Chandler, Lovesick 3 

This painting, lovesick 3, is from a series of painting depicting myself, masked by a fluid substance. This group of works is an exploration into how to represent the mercurial, evolving nature of identity and the ways that we conceal and reveal ourselves to and from the world. My intention is also to generate an analogy between the wet substance pasted over the skin of the face and the act of rendering a face in paint – sometimes its as though my brush is reaching into the pictorial space and stroking paint on to the skin.

The inward gaze, lowered head, the masked face and luminous yellow background in this painting describe a psychological portrait as much as a literal one. I want the viewer to feel as though I am there in the painting.


A record number of finalists year-on-year have been selected for the shortlist of Australia’s most recognised portrait prize for women, the Portia Geach Memorial Award, with its trustee – The Trust Company – today announcing 58 finalists.

Some of the well-known sitters for this year’s award include actor Ben Mendelsohn, fashion designer Akira Isogawa, choreography and dance duo Graeme Murphy AO and Janet Vernon AM, journalist and politician Maxine McKew, and actress and director Rachel Ward. The finalists were selected from 267 entries.

The judging panel for 2013 is comprised of Jane Watters, Director S.H Ervin Gallery; Dr Lindy Lee, Senior Lecturer, Sydney College of the Arts; and Artist Ben Quilty

The Trust Company is delighted to announce the 2013 Portia Geach Memorial Award finalists:

Name Title of work Name of Sitter
Clara Adolphs Paul no.11 Paul J. Hayes
Suzanne  Alexander Paul Delprat Paul Delprat
Ann Arora Portrait of Peter Fay Peter Fay
Rachael Barkess Andrea Andrea Cussons
Danelle Bergstrom “You and I” Graeme Murphy AO and Janet Vernon AM
Jo Bertini Explorer  (Peter & Jhumpa) Peter Brun
Wendy Bills Jessica McIntyre….Emerging Artist Jessica McIntyre
Cynthia Breusch ‘Self-Portrait With Paper Hat’ Self
Astrid Bruning My Son, the Artist and Tattooist Jason Jacenko and Akean Lewinski
Ann Cape The Artist At Home Margaret Woodward
Celeste Chandler lovesick 3 Celeste Chandler
Ah Too Chew Philip Philip
Dagmar Cyrulla Strained me
Amanda Davies Self portrait: a devils tale Amanda Davies
Sinead Davies Self Portrait Sinead Davies
Michelle Dawson Dancing Tommy Tommy Franklin
Gillian Dunlop Christopher Lawrence , ABC Classic FM Christopher Lawrence
Yvonne East Selfie, Distorted Yvonne East
Katherine  Edney Beloved Man Goat (David Adam Capra) David Capra
Louise Feneley Looking from Inside, Out Self
Jennifer Gabbay The Diplomat Ms. Caroline Millar
Caroline Graley John Noordennen John noordennen
Helene Grove Self Portrait.  Getting On. Helene Grove
Tsering  Hannaford Julia Julia Townsend
Sophia Hewson Under Aithon Sophia Hewson
Polly Ifould ‘On Cloud Nine: Alexandra Schepisi with newborn Ruben’ Alexandra Schepisi
Pamela Irving Guy Warren an Artist Guy Warren
Laura Jones Cowboy Peter Hudson
Matilda Julian flower farmer self portrait
Jodee Knowles Nash Nash Edgerton
Sandra Lalopoulos Brian Brian Keane
Valerie Landa Paolo Totaro, Foundation Chairman Ethnic Affairs Commission of NSW, 1977 – 1989 Paolo Totaro
Robin Lawrence Andrew Andrew Wood
Chelsea  Lehmann Threshold Deborah Paauwe
Kathrin Longhurst Meluxine photo-bombing another historical painting Meluxine
Claire Martin Imaginary friends Self portrait
Morna McIlraith Ike Ike Glatz
Kerry McInnis Elena Kats Chernin Elena Kats Chernin
Matilda Michell When the rain came Matilda Michell
Camellia Morris At Home with Roy Billing Roy Billing
Kirsty Neilson Rachel Rachel Ward
Jane Nicol Aunty Joan Tranter Joan Tranter
Robyn Rich Self Portrait Robyn Rich
Monika Behrens and Rochelle Haley The Bubble Monika Behrens & Rochelle Haley
Robyn Stanton Werkhoven Dr Susana Enriquez in Her Studio Dr. Susan Enriquez
Robyn Sweaney Home Sweet Home Peter Fay, Robin Evans & Milly
Derryn  Tal Akira Akira Isogawa
Clare  Thackway Giles Giles Thackway
Caroline  Thew Maxine McKew Maxine McKew
Linda Waldrum Venerable Adrienne Howley AOM Adrienne Howley
Deborah Walker The Dictionary (Susie) Xi Guo
Victoria Watts self-portrait Victoria Watts
Sally West Ben Mendelsohn Ben Mendelsohn
Mirra Whale Seeing Red Mirra Whale
Fiona White Leap of Faith Fiona White
Maryanne Wick Jeannine and Jennine Jennine Primmer
Michelle Zuccolo Self Portrait in Contemplation Michelle Zuccolo


2012 Winner Announced

The Trust Company, as Trustee, announced Sally Robinson as winner of Australia’s most famed portrait prize for women – the Portia Geach Memorial Award – for her portrait,The Artist’s Mother on 27 September 2012.

The Artist’s Mother was selected by the judges from 295 entries. Ms Robinson was presented her $18,000 prize by The Trust Company at a ceremony held at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks. The exhibition including all 55 finalists is open for viewing by the public until 4 November at the S.H. Ervin Gallery.

Also drawing the judges’ attention was the self portrait, Stormfront, by Sophie Cape which received a highly commended.
















Sally Robinson,The Artist’s Mother
While also producing abstract and semi-abstract work, I enjoy the intimacy of portraiture where both the artist and viewers of art must read a face to discover character and nature.
Age and illness produce invisibility, androgeny and vulnerability. After chemotherapy robbed my 89 year old mother of her beautiful hair, she bravely agreed to me painting her portrait. She was also a painter but in recent years concentrated on producing illuminated manuscripts of modern Gaelic texts using traditional techniques of calligraphy, gold leaf and paint application.

I use stencils to produce dashes and lines which build up a complex aggregation of colour and tone. These patches of colour flicker across the painting’s surface yet, in their juxtaposition, create a synthetic reality that echoes the pixellated way we see the world in the mass media.

I have studied and taught art at tertiary level in Sydney, exhibited nation wide in solo and group exhibitions, and have works in public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. My portraits have been finalists in the Archibald, Archibald Salon des Refuses, Doug Moran, Portia Geach and Shirley Hannan portrait competitions.














Sophie Cape,

Having once been an elite and damaged athlete, I seek a raw, direct expression through the body’s physicality in order to manifest a therapeutic and cathartic interface with my work and the world. This very physical action through its performative process is what signifies the portrait.

Working ‘in situ’, in the desert, on a vast scale, free from the constraints of a studio I am able to channel the instinctual and the unpredictable. Utilising local, organic and found materials I live outside with the works for weeks, allowing the land itself to infiltrate.
Creating psychological self-portraits that voice the dialogue of both the internal and external landscape and of past and present experience through a very physical engagement with self, materiality and place. I have found that using the personal to explore the Universal, has created for me a necessary and authentic contact with the permanent tragedy that is our very human condition.

I wish to rip the figure and face wide open. To find the lyrical, the excruciating, the subjective and the abstract. To create a visceral and theatrical encounter with the spectator. I thrive upon life in all its beauty and horror, it’s contrasts of survival and decay – be it in the external landscape, the physical body or the mind.

The winner of the 2012 Portia Geach Award is Sally Robinson with her painting The Artist’s Mother (Margaret Joyce Robinson, artist). The judges would like to congratulate the winning artist for this sensitive depiction of her elderly mother who has recently undergone chemotherapy treatment. The judges responded to the close relationship of artist to her sitter and the sincere expression of sentimentality in the work. The artist has attempted to bridge several stylistic approaches in the visual language employed in this work and although the work is based on the grid, it transcends the formulaic and animates the face of the sitter to reveal her courage and vulnerability.

The judges would also like to highly commend the work by Sophie Cape – Stormfront (self portrait) which they admired for its ambition and scale. They recognised the challenges for the artist in executing this confronting and bold depiction of herself. The work illustrates the strong connection the artist has with herself but also to the landscape – elements of which she has incorporated into the image.

27 September 2012

John Beard, Artist
Lindy Lee, Senior Lecturer, Sydney College of the Arts
Jane Watters, Director, S.H. Ervin Gallery
Judges for the 2012 Portia Geach Memorial Award


Winner and Highly Commended Artists

Kate Stevens was announced as the winner of the 2011 Portia Geach Memorial Award for her work entitled Indian Dream, a portrait of animator, video and street artist Willy BernardoffThe announcement was made on Thursday 22 September at a VIP event held at the National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney.

The judging panel also highly commended Michelle Dawson’s Sparrow Man.

52 artworks were selected from the 248 artworks submitted to be a part of the 2011 Exhibition. The Trust Company congratulates Kate, and all of the artists who have been a part of this year’s exhibition. The winner was awarded $18,000 in prize money.

The 2011 judging panel consists of John Beard, renowned Australian Artist, Dinah Dysart, Independent Writer, Editor and Arts Adviser Elenora Triguboff, Publisher / Editor of Art and Australia and Jane Watters, Director of National Trust S.H.Ervin Gallery.

To read the judges’ Report please click here.


Kate Stevens - Indian Dream2















Kate Stevens, Indian Dream

Commenting on her win, Kate said that she was over the moon at winning the country’s most prestigious portrait award. Kate entered last year where her work was hung but this year was her year.

Artistic Statement:  This painting is about the dream of India- the romanticisation of the East; the epic road trip as a rite of passage; the idea of something surpassing the actual experience of it. It is about pin-ups and Bollywood soundtracks; about boys and bikes; about longing and wanderlust, and beauty and dust and distance.


Highly Commended














Michelle Dawson, Sparrow Man

Artistic Statement: Rene Bolten is a man of acute observation, as an artist, teacher and friend. It is a gentle scrutiny that does not cast judgment but rather looks beyond the surface and seeks out the essential truth and beauty of the subject, be it a person, animal or onion.


A selection of 2011 artworks is below:















Joanna Braithwaite, Happy Hour

Artistic Statement: The Laughing Kookaburra starts its afternoon conversation at about the time of day when Happy Hours commence all around Sydney. The lively and almost mocking calls of the Kookaburra are a reminder of yet another day starting and passing. Australian Birds have been a recent painting obsession of mine and the Kookaburra is a firm favorite.

















Debby Angus, Glen Boss

Artistic Statement: Glen boss is one of the finest jockeys in Australian turf history, having won the Melbourne Cup three times on the same horse, Makybe Diva.

He is small in stature, but with a large personality.  He has a very direct way of dealing with things and I have tried to capture this with the confronting nature of my caricature portrait.  By reducing the background to a subtle grey shade and only painting the head I hope to have shown the subject’s strength of character.



Deidre But-Husaim, Still Life, 5 Days

Artistic Statement: A dialogue about beauty and what it is to each of us as individuals has been at the core of my art practice for many years. In the past I have made figurative works from images of people found through various types of media. These people have been unknown to me; this has been my preferred way of working allowing me ‘blank canvasses’ to work from.

Then came the cluster of natural disasters that have recently happened around the world, from the Australian floods and fires to the Tsunami in Japan. I find it difficult to comprehend the huge numbers of people that have lost their lives and loved ones in these horrific events. This has deeply affected me.

I now find myself wanting to paint only people I know, people that are tangible and present, ‘real’ to me, each and everyone an individual. Each person was painted over one day in my studio, they all are known to me, they are all artists, they are all very much alive and in no way blank canvasses.



Fran Callen, Drawing Chrissy Writing Lyrics (portrait of Chrissy Amphlett) 

Artistic Statement: This portrait holds clues that suggest the narrative that created the moment. Chrissy, though fragile from her recent battle with breast cancer is vibrant, enigmatic. She buzzes with an intense creative energy and a deeper strength. Poised on the edge of the couch she writes lyrics as I sketch and paint her, surrounded by drawings. Her dog, Holiday, watches.

Her husband, Charley Drayton, listens behind her to the first recording of ‘Summer Song’, by their band ‘the Tulips’. Warmth emanates from the scene within their Manhattan Recording Studio.

There’s a sense of wonder, an enigmatic presence exuding from this electrifying, provocative performer, caught in the creation of her art-form, as I begin to create mine.

















Christine O’ Hagan, Rebecca Gibney

Artistic Statement: This is my painting of Rebecca Gibney portrayed in a location so totally different as the television public perception of her as her very famous role, Julie Rafter, in the top rated television series “Packed to the Rafters”.

Our first meeting was at her home and straight away we struck an accord that was to endure through the process.  The portrait was painted with a limited palette, with only three sittings and the use of reference materials between sittings. From the initial sketching out on the canvas to completion, some six months had elapsed. This work has been the most challenging for me to date having learned a great deal on this artistic journey.

















Kathrin Longhurst, Self Portrait as Poster Girl

Artistic Statement: This painting came about as a response to a comment someone made to me many years ago referring to my East German heritage. I was told that all East Europeans were just “gold diggers” and “dumb to have believed the communist regime’s propaganda”. It made me think about stereotypes and how our background and upbringing will taint our outlook on life and how people view us. It also sparked a search for my roots and heritage, conducting interviews with both my parents and friends and relatives in former East Germany, researching literature and documents on my former home country. The result has been a completely new body of work, referencing communist propaganda art and symbolism mixed with modern ideas and aesthetics. This self portrait is part of that series of “Poster girls”.

In this self portrait I am depicted as an idolised working class hero, a poster girl, proudly holding up the red flag, confidently looking towards the horizon into the future. It’s a satirical take on art work that I was surrounded by when I grew up and a reference to my roots and heritage from a society that doesn’t exist anymore.

2011 Finalists

“The works selected for inclusion in the 2011 Portia Geach Memorial Award represent the wide diversity of approach to portraiture from traditional depictions to contemporary representations of the sitters. The judges responded positively to the works that demonstrated real sincerity and connection to the subject, however painterly integrity was of the utmost concern” said Jane Watters, speaking on behalf of the 2011 judging panel.

The Trust Company would like to congratulate the 51 artists chosen to display their works at the 2011 Portia Geach Memorial Exhibition. The Portia Geach Memorial Award will showcase the exceptional talent we have among female artists in Australia today. The total number of works to display is 52.

Title of Artwork
Portrait Subject
Deborah Angus Glen Boss Glen Boss
Wendy Arnold Topsy-Turvy Self portrait
Melissa Bates Designer in Contemplation Ilia Saiki Chidzey
Kate Beynon Self Portrait- After Frida Kate Beynon
Carole Best Presidential man – The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG
Wendy Bills ‘Kita and ‘The Birds’ at Terrigal Skillion’ Kita Kerford
Joanna Braithwaite Happy Hour Self portrait
Krista Brennan Carpe Diem Guy Troughton
Cynthia Breusch Portrait of Christopher McVinish, Artist’ Christopher McVinish
Ellie Bunt Ellie Self portrait
Deidre But-Husaim Still Life (5 days) Nigel Koop, Sera Waters, Ryan Waters, Bridget Currie & Daniel Torchio
Filippa Buttitta The Sporting Spillane (Portrait of Debbie Spillane) Debbie Spillane
Fran Callen Drawing Chrissy Writing Lyrics Chrissy Amphlett
Sophie Cape Master and Commander Admiral Paul Watson
Ann Cape Sophie Cape Sophie Cape
Louisa Chan Romancing the three kingdoms Self portrait
Gaye Chapman Bloodshot Nocturne: me & my talismans staring into a brown study Self portrait
Ah Too Chew Benedicta Benedicta
Laura Courtney self portrait – after Jan Van Eyck ‘Man in Turban’ Self portrait
Mary Crock Meditator, Mediator, Blind Man with a Vision. Professor Ron McCallum AO
Bridget Dolan Can Can Bridget Dolan
Yvonne East Food, Sex and Decay Yvonne East
Nitza Flantz Immigrant Affinities Nitza Flantz & Richard Flantz
Jennifer Gabbay Fragments of Myself Self portrait
Jessica Geron Our Time Self portrait
Isabel Gomez John Morris and Maggie Mr John Morris
Marilyn Hickey Self portrait Self portrait
Judy Hungerford The Story Teller. Self portrait
Laura Jones Self Portrait (The Track) Self portrait
Kathrin Longhurst Self Portrait as Poster Girl Self portrait
Alison Mackay From the Waist Up Richard Morecroft
Mahala May Magins Contemplating Two, Self-Portrait Mahala May Magins Self portrait
Marie Mansfield Francis Giacco Francis Giacco
Morna  McIlraith “Cousin” Vanessa Jeavons
Kerry McInnis Ann Thomson Ann Thomson
Carolyn McKay Captive Text Brian Joyce
Michelle Dawson Sparrow Man Rene Bolten
Michelle Dawson The Visitation Self portrait
Wendy Murray Marie Cook Meditating Marie Cook
Christine O’Hagan Rebecca Gibney Rebecca Gibney
Amanda Penrose Hart Ego Vobis Valedico Hon Roderick Pitt Meagher
Judi Power-Thomson Trusted Friend The Hon Prue Goward MP
Donna Rankin Desire The Horse Holly Rankin
Sally Ross Nell Nell
Robyn Stanton Werkhoven Jenny Kee with Waratahs Jenny Kee
Xenia Stefanescu Self portrait Self portrait
Kate Stevens Indian Dream Willy Bernardoff
Victoria Watts Senex, a portrait of my Father Arthur John Watts
Sally West Talking Rabbitohs and Rosalie Gascoigne with Reg Richardson Reg Richardson
Maryanne Wick Self Portrait (Reflection of a Night Painter) Self portrait
Jan Williamson Gladdy Kemarre – Utopia Gladdy Kemarre
Michelle Zuccolo Self Portrait

The 2011 judges are Jane Watters, Director of National Trust S.H Ervin Gallery, Eleonora Trigboff, Publisher / Editor of Art and Australia; and John Beard, renowned Australian artist.

The 2011 exhibition will open to the public on the 23 September until the 6 November 2011, at the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks Sydney.  The gallery hours are Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm with an entry fee of $7 for adults, $5 concession and $4 for National Trust members.

In a first for the prize, the exhibition will tour to the Tweed River Art Gallery, Murwillumbah next year from 3 February to 18 March, 2012.


2010 marked the 45th anniversary of the Award with the prize first awarded in 1965 to Jean Appleton for her work Self Portrait.

Winner and Highly Commended Artists

Prudence Flint was announced as the winner of the 2010 Portia Geach Memorial Award for her work entitled Scrambled egg. The announcement was made on Thursday 23 September at a VIP event held at the National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney.

The judging panel also highly commended Nerissa Lea’s Hung and Sally Ross’ Eliza.

48 artworks were selected from the 248 artworks submitted to be a part of the 2010 Exhibition.

The Trust Company congratulates Prudence, and all of the artists who have been a part of this year’s Exhibition. The winner was awarded $18,000 in prize money.

The 2010 judging panel consists of Louise Tegart, Director of National Trust S.H.Ervin Gallery, and two trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales as per the wishes of Florence Geach; Eleonora Triguboff, Publisher / Editor of Art and Australia; and John Beard, renowned Australian artist.

A selection of this year’s artworks is available below:


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Prudence Flint, Scrambled egg

Commenting on her win, Prudence said that she was thrilled to be a part of the Award’s legacy. Since first entering the Award in 1998, Prudence’s artworks have been hung in the Portia Geach finals ten times.

Artist Statement: In this painting I wanted to capture the intimate act of transforming one thing into another.


Highly Commended

121 Sally Ross Lady ELIZA2










Sally Ross,  Eliza

Artist Statement: I have been fascinated by Eliza Hutchison’s work for some time. Her work is a complex combination of portraiture, costume, sculpture, narrative and exquisitely detailed photography.  Her enigmatic and stylish pieces are often labour-intensive – from hand-making elaborate costumes for a curious hairy beast roaming a rocky seashore, to more recent photographs and sculpture that transform photos of impossibly famous teen stars into shredded, perfectly chaotic sculptural forms, suggesting both a meticulous, razor-sharp violence or a romantic rippled Narcissus-like reflection. She is an adventurous and surprising artist.

I wanted to paint Eliza as she is not only a talented artist but she seems unaware of how fine-boned and beautiful she is.

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Nerissa Lea, Hung

Artist Statement:

All I can really do is tell a story, (the reason I paint is because I can’t write)
last year I went to New York to Francis Bacon retrospective
it was summer
I was 3 months off turning 50
Two months and three weeks off living past the age my mother was when she died.
The last time I had been in New York was with her, it was summer then too, I was 16

So at 49 and some, I strolled around New York with the ghost of my mother by my side

At some stage I was in the MOMA
I had been looking at art for days, there was Beuys work on an end wall, one with a felt suit and stuffed hare, I thought….that’s me

Moulded like a wet felt into the shape I am, stuffed like that hare with my life so far, and suspended between the before and after of the calamity of being older than my mother ever was….


McKay, C.2











Carolyn McKay, Nicholas Hope

Artist Statement: My meeting with actor, Nicholas Hope, came about in a strange way.

Word of Mouth: Eyewitness Testimony was the title of my recent research where I considered the role of the live human voice in murder trials.  Part of my research methodology was to attend various murder trials including the so-called clingwrap killer. Sitting in court listening to evidence about the alleged murder by clingwrap immediately brought forth visions of Rolf de Heer’s 1993 film Bad Boy Bubby, starring Nicholas Hope. Soon thereafter, I noticed Nicholas Hope in the 2009 telemovie, 3 Acts of Murder. When I then saw Nicholas wandering around the university campus, I started to think that he would make a good subject for a portrait.

Inspired by Nicholas’ book, Brushing the Tip of Fame, I have painted him with his name projected and repeated, almost tattooed, over his face. With his features distorting the text and the text distorting his features, I contemplated the relationship between name, identity, celebrity and what the face reveals and conceals about someone’s inner life. I guess that is one of the privileges of painting portraits – that rare glimpse into the personality behind a public face.

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Judy Lane, Joseph Corkhill at Garryowen

Artist Statement: Quite recently I was staying at Garryowen, a property near Binalong. It was here that I met Jo. I was taken by his kindness, demeanor and sensitivity. He is a brilliant garden and interior designer. And I was delighted that he would give me the time in his busy life. 

Time and Plays by Bridget Dolan










Bridget Dolan,  Time & Plays

Artist Statement: At the moment I’m interested in playing with open ended visual cues, personas and everyday pressures.   In this painting I’ve used a strong period costume silhouette set against small everyday children’s play things.  My intention in working with these elements combined with dramatic lighting and perspective is hopefully to provoke questioning.

227 Symone Male2












Symone Male, No requests

Artist Statement: ‘No Requests’ is a portrait of renowned DJ and formidable drummer Nicholas Hugh Naughton, better known as ‘Norto’.

DJ ‘El Norto’ has warmed up for countless rock bands over the past 15yrs including BillyBragg, Dinosaur Jnr, John Spencer Blues Explosion, You AM I and Supergrass.

As a drummer Norto plays on a regular basis for Dave Mc Cormack and has done for the past 20 years in a variety of bands. Other outfits Nic has played with over the past two decades have included artists Glen Thompson, Robert Moore, Paul Medew, Shane Bruun and Ian Haug,  from Custard, The Go Betweens, and Powder Finger.

Currently Nic plays drums for Brisbane band ‘Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side’ which also boasts Ben Corbett and Dan Baebler of ‘6Ft Hick’ and Dylan Mac Cormack.

‘Gentle Ben’ is in the process of launching their third album ‘Magnetic Island’ produced by Dave MacCormack.

The Aussie records were chosen by Norto from his personal collection. They have stood the test of time and symbolise the quality Australian musicians and artists have to offer the world stage.

‘El Norto’ does not appreciate drunken kids who make inane requests, hence, the title `No Requests’















Maryanne Wick, Self Portrait in Studio (After Hammershoi)

Artist Statement: Self Portrait in Studio (after Hammershoi)’ encompasses elements about painting and subject matter that are meaningful to me as an artist.

I am a great admirer of Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916). In December 2008, I travelled to Japan to see a retrospective of his work at the National Western Museum of Art in Tokyo. It was an education to observe so many of his works in the flesh. Each painting and drawing was both mesmerizing and unsettling. His interiors, figures and still life subjects have a disquieting stillness which, together with their subtle tones and diffused light, projects a haunting silence. According to the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke in 1905, ‘Hammershoi is not one of those about whom one must speak quickly. His work is long and slow, and at whichever moment one apprehends it, it will offer plentiful reasons to speak of what is important and essential in art’.

My studio is in the bush at the back of my house. I prefer to paint during the afternoon and at night. As the natural light fades, my silhouette is reflected in the glass door and, as it becomes darker outside, the light inside the studio makes my reflection even more distinctive. It was a natural choice to paint my own portrait in my special ‘sense of place’ – in the still of the night, surrounded by silence, and thinking of Hammershoi.

Rebecca Lavis- Me and Locky (Self-portrait with son)


Rebecca Lavis, Me and Locky

Artist Statement:

Painting; ‘sk8ing’,
you just keep trying to nail a trick.
You are focussed, it can hurt.
You don’t notice what’s going on around you,
you don’t notice what’s going on inside you.
Eventually you land it
and it feels like something has happened.
Something great
and you can notice everything again.

2010 Finalists Announced

The Trust Company would like to congratulate the 47 artists chosen to display their works at the 2010 Portia Geach Memorial Exhibition. Celebrating it’s 45th year, the Portia Geach Memorial Award will showcase the exceptional talent we have among female artists in Australia today. The total number of works to display is 48.

 Artist  Title of Artwork  Portrait Subject
Joy Beardmore Mitch and Ted Ted May
Melissa Beowulf If all else fails…! Michael Kempson
Melissa Beowulf The Sleek Geek Adam Spencer
Danelle Bergstrom Independent Spirit Ann Thomson
Joanna Braithwaite Canine Council – Self Portrait with Dogs in Art Self Portrait
Rachael Brook The Gent and the Unicorn Michael Zavros
Filippa Buttitta Eyeing a Greener Future Lee Rhiannon
Ann Cape Grace Costanza with her Mother, Vera Grace Costanza and her Mother, Vera
Sophie Cape Betrayal Self Portrait
Leeanne Crisp Portrait of Andrew Sayers Andrew Sayers
Sinead Davies Swah Swah (Sarah Shrapnel Designer)
Bridget Dolan Time & Plays Self Portrait
Prudence Flint Scrambled Egg Self Portrait
Judy Fullerton The Lady Babushka Irene Miller
Jessica Geron Max and Me Self Portrait with Son
Sophie Hann In My Studio Self Portrait
Juliet Holmes á Court Yours in Paint Self Portrait
Laura Jones Ben’s Chair Benjamin Storrier
Deborah Kay Off the Field Beau Champion
Joanna Kitas And This Too Shall Pass Self Portrait
Judy Lane Joseph Corkhill at Garryowen Joseph Corkhill
Rebecca Lavis Me and Locky (Self portrait with Son) Self Portrait with Son
Nerissa Lea Hung Self Portrait
Symone Male No requests Nicholas Hugh Naughton
Marie Mansfield Mrs A Anna Alison
Sue Marshall About to Self Portrait
Gabrielle Martin Jenny Nestor Jenny Nestor
Bridgette McNab Woman in a Red Dress Self Portrait
Morna McIlraith Roman Soprano Rosella
Kerry McInnis Sketch of Ann Thomson Ann Thomson
Carolyn McKay Nicholas Hope Nicholas Hope
Lynn Miller Brett Dean Brett Dean
Linda O’Toole Emma Pask – The Flapper Emma Pask
Judith Power Thomson All that Jazz Don Burrows
Kate Rae Alan Somerville – Artist Sculptor Alan Somerville
Lesley Redgate Jacky and the Red Shirt Jacky Redgate
Marion Richards Sonia Richards Sonia Richards
Sally Robinson Self portrait squared Self Portrait
Sally Ross Eliza Eliza Hutchison
Sally Ryan Yaw Yaw Glymin
Claire Stening The Year 2009 Self Portrait
Jodi Stewart Suzanne Chick with her painting “Gift from Diego” Suzanne Chick
Pam Tippett Self portrait (for a change) Self Portrait
Katherine Uren Portrait of the Artist in Character Self Portrait
Rosemary Valadon Murder by the book Tara Moss
Victoria Watts Reading the Script – Jesse Spencer Jesse Spencer
Maryanne Wick Self Portrait in Studio (After Hammershoi) Self Portrait
Frances Wiedersatz What Next? Self Portrait


Winner and Highly Commended Artists

Australia’s most significant prize for celebrating the creativity of Australian female portrait artists, the Portia Geach Memorial Award (valued at $18,000), was won by Christine Hiller for her work The Old Painter.  Hiller is the second woman to have won the Award three times.  She first won 23 years ago in 1986 for a self portrait and then again the following year for another self portrait.

This year’s winner was announced on Thursday 24 September at a cocktail party held at the National Trust’s S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney.  The event was opened by Anne Fulwood.

The Judging Panel also highly commended Louisa Antico’s That Special Place: Self Portrait and Grace Costanzo’s Split.

328 artists entered this year’s competition – one of the largest in the history of the Award – with 51 being selected for the exhibition.  To view this selection enter here.

Commenting on this year’s entries, the Judging Panel was impressed by the diversity and freshness evident in this year’s entries. To read the Judges’ Report enter here.

Judges for the 2009 Award were Mr Michael Desmond, Dr Lindy Lee and Imants Tillers.

The Portia Geach Memorial Award exhibition will be held at the SH Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill, Sydney from 25 September to 8 November, 2009. Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm (closed on Monday).

A selection of this year’s works is available below for viewing.


Christine Hiller, The Old Painter

Commenting on her win, Hiller said that she was completely surprised and deeply honoured to be awarded this year’s Portia Geach Award.

About Christine Hiller
Born on the 24th July 1948, Kit Alexander grew up in Hobart and was educated at Friends’ School and at the Tasmanian School of Art.  With three small children she began painting watercolour portraits in the evenings and had her first exhibition in 1982. Her portraits have been hung in the Archibald and the Portia Geach Memorial Prize for female artists.

In 1986 and 1987, her portraits won the Portia Geach Award and were bought for the Robert Holmes a Court Collection. She was named Tasmanian of the Year in 1987. Kit has held 27 one-woman exhibitions in Tasmania. She has travelled to Canada, U.S.A., France and Mexico.

Apart from painting, she has completed more than 300 lino-cuts, many of Tasmanian wildflowers and birds; most are individually hand coloured.
She lives at Mt. Hicks on the N.W. Coast of Tasmania.


Louisa Antico, That Special Place

Where dreamers dream and artists create
Where poets lay and hearts ache
Where flowers bloom
In one’s own room
Where virginity’s broken
In the depths of the ocean
Where my cats sleep
Where willows weep
Where memories dwell
In a treasured sea shell
In my mother’s eyes
Where the birds fly
To that special place.


Grace Costanzo, Split

The idea for the painting titled “Split” came from seeing my reflection in two mirrors, one behind the other, with the back mirror a little more to the side of the front mirror.

Carole Best, Selbstbildnis Mit Juden Eucalyptus (Self Portrait with Young Eucalyptus) (After Egon Schiele)

This painting is based on a self portrait by Egon Schiele which I stood looking at for a very long time. I was bewitched by Schiele’s use of colour on the face, the wiped-out method of removing it and the brazen gaze of his expression.

My own version of that work is my first foray into using oil paint. I got scared half way through and went back to acrylic for the background parts. The thing I like most about it is the elongated neck and the distortion.

Prior to painting this piece my works were mainly monochromatic using charcoal and acrylic, and always positioned with the head fully facing the viewer, so I am pleased with the evolution it represents to my art making.

Joanna Braithwaite, Walk the Walk

“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi human.  The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” - Edward Hoagland

It is said that one dog year equals seven years of a human life. To the devoted dog owner the relationship seems too short and is therefore intense. Walk the Walk reflects on time passing and friendship between owner and dog. The word “owner” should be used loosely in my particular case because I often find that the pug is in charge.

Sophie Cape, Self Portrait

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” - Marcus Aurelius

It was once the role of the painter to express the ideal. Now it is the business of the advertising industry to define our dreams. The use of photography and post-production to create homogenised and non-confrontational imagery seems contrary to the camera’s ability to capture unique and undeniable reality. When I began my self-portrait I sought only to interrogate the elements of light, colour and form in an objective way. As my investigation deepened I uncovered the potential of the painter’s role to express an unpolished truth, a beauty within the subject’s humanity.

Cathyann Coady, Three Generations

Three Generations is about the privilege of womanhood and my personal reflections watching my daughter blossom into a woman of her generation.   It’s about the role women play in establishing and nurturing family traditions.   We gain a tremendous amount of strength from those women in our families that have gone before us and led the way as mentors and role models, passing the baton as it were, to create a sound basis for women of the future.

Sinead Davies, If Only

It is an intimate experience painting a portrait from life, having the freedom to scrutinise and measure the sitter every minute for days and in this case, weeks. As a student I took this privilege for granted. Now I fully appreciate these rare opportunities. My subject Paul Motion was both committed and disciplined. Silence pervaded our working sessions and we only spoke during breaks, three times a day. Paul has my admiration and respect and I have his trust. If Only!

Melissa Egan, Self Portrait Discovering my Heritage

We live in a culture in which we have little reverence for our ancestors.  Our innate link to our heritage is surely an undeniable influence on our present lives. We cannot ignore inherent characteristics that have been passed down to us from previous generations.

Earlier this year, after being inexplicably drawn to painting bagpipes and kilts, I discovered the extent of my “Scottish heritage”.

The dichotomy between our ancestral homelands and Australia are worlds apart culturally, climatically and environmentally and yet we attempt to maintain our past roots. We surround ourselves with aspects of our heritage, animals and plants that are not always compatible with Australia’s indigenous species.

The painting shows a motley group of travellers, each relocated over past generations from different parts of the globe.  The fox, the dog, the horse and the recently discovered Scottish lassie all tell a story as they make their pilgrimage… first stop Cromarty.

Prudence Flint, Fried egg

In Fried egg I wanted to capture an everyday weariness, with the allegorical presence of the fried egg… a nod to potential self-regeneration.

Dale Kentwell, Telopea speciosissima “Mum had been severely reprimanded by the boys’ soccer coach”

Moving away from the landscape to an interior in this work proved challenging…..however I remember standing in my studio feeling forlorn and rejected and thought “yes…..there is a painting in this”.

Being a mum, busy with three boys and spending a lot of time in isolation as a painter means that I work with things that are immediate and accessible….the self portrait is fulfilling in that through it I can explore formal ideas and further develop these with a narrative.

In this work I wanted to penetrate that capsule that surrounds motherhood and explore the idea that our lives as mothers are so inexplicably intertwined with those of our children.Telopea speciosissima is the botanical name for the local waratah found in the vase.


Clare Thackway, Lay with Pigs You Smell Like Them

Quoting a saying frequently heard in my family, this painting deals with moral scrutiny and the fear of otherness. Coincidently, this year has seen global panic with swine signifying infection and contamination.


Lauren Wilhelm, Me, Stripped Back and Justifiably Anxious

My work represents the angst many women feel about the image they present to the world and their perceived value in the eyes of modern society as they approach middle age.  The act of painting myself as I am, a very private 40 year old woman, without the usual decoration or concealing effects, was quite confronting.  I reveal myself as a vulnerable creature with no protection, bluff or guise – a transparent, anxious animal in a fickle world.


Winner and Highly Commended Artists

Australia’s most significant prize for celebrating the creativity of Australian female portrait artists, the Portia Geach Memorial Award (valued at $18,000), was won by Jude Rae for her work Self Portrait 2008 (the year my husband left).  Jude first won this Award in 2005 for her work Large Interior (Micky Allan).

This year’s winner was announced on Thursday 2 October at a cocktail party held at the National Trust’s S.H. Ervin Gallery.  The event was opened by Fenella Kernebone.

The Judging Panel highly commended Jo Bertini’s Luise Hercus at the Widows’ Waterhole – Yarluyendi Country and Shonah Tescott’s Wendy Sharpe in Paris.

294 artists entered this year’s competition with 56 being selected for the exhibition.  Commenting on this year’s entries, the Judging Panel was particularly impressed by the freshness and the diversity of approach to the challenge of portrait painting displayed by the artists.  The judges believed they were amongst some of the best they have judged over the last decade.  To view this selection enter here or to read the Judges’ Report enter here.

Judges for the 2008 Award were Barry Pearce, Aida Tomescu and Jane Watters.

The Portia Geach Memorial Award exhibition will be held at the SH Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill, Sydney from 3 October to 9 November. Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm (closed on Monday).
A selection of this year’s works is available below for viewing.

Winner – Jude Rae, Self Portrait 2008 (the year my husband left)

Commenting on her win, Rae said that in 2005 it was a very special honour to receive the Portia Geach Award. “It is doubly an honour to be awarded the 2008 Portia Geach, a second time and after only three years!”

About Jude Rae
Jude Rae was born in Sydney in 1956. From 1976 to 1988 she studied at the University of Sydney and College of Fine Arts (UNSW) where she also lectured and tutored in Art History/Theory. Her first solo exhibition was at Painters Gallery in 1987. In 1988 she was awarded an Australia Council Residency in Paris after which she moved to New Zealand with her husband. While living in New Zealand from 1990 to 1998 she was awarded an MA from the University of Canterbury, worked in a variety of jobs including arts administrator and university tutor and lecturer, and consolidated her practice as a painter.

Since returning to Australia Jude has taught at the National Art School in Sydney and the ANU School of Art in Canberra. In 2005 she won the Portia Geach Memorial Award with her portrait of fellow artist Micky Allen. A monograph on Jude Rae’s work with text by Justin Paton, was published by Ouroborus Publications in 2006. Her work is primarily represented by Jensen Gallery in Auckland New Zealand. She is also represented by Helen Maxwell Gallery in Canberra and Jonathan Smart Gallery in Christchurch (NZ). Her work is held in public and private collections in Australia and New Zealand.

Jude is currently enrolled as a PhD candidate at the ANU School of Art and lives in Canberra with her dog Tilly.

About Self Portrait 2008 (the year my husband left)
I painted this self portrait whilst pondering my new status as a single middle-aged woman on the unstable income of an artist, “self employed”. It is based on Velasquez’s “Las Meninas” (“The Handmaidens”) which I saw recently, along with the collection of his astonishing paintings at the Prado in Madrid. I have taken great liberties with the master’s work, reversing the composition and subtracting the key figures of the Infanta and her retinue, and the royal parents who are mirrored in the dark interior of the original.

Only the dog remains, with me standing in the place of Velasquez himself, under the glare of the studio lights. I do not envy his position but I do aspire to his subtle virtuosity and breadth of vision. There is something intensely compassionate in his portraits of royalty and courtiers, jesters and buffoons alike. These characterizations reveal all the complexities, burdens, negotiations and compromises of 17thC Spanish court life from top to bottom. For all our technological advances over the last 400 years one senses that human relations – all those complexities, negotiations, burdens and compromises – remain remarkably similar.


Highly Commended – Jo Bertini, Luise Hercus at the Widows’ Waterhole – Yarluyendi Country 

In June this year I joined Australian Desert Expeditions (as I do every year) on an Archaeological Research Expedition into the Simpson Desert as the expedition artist. We travelled to a remote, secret, sacred burial site, on a high dune beside a waterhole, where, up to 500 years ago, at least 80 women in mourning cast off their gypsum caps from their shaven heads and scattered them on this desert grave.  Accompanied by a group of esteemed experts from a range of National Institutions and across various academic disciplines, (history, natural science, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics and ethnography) as well as descendants of the old Wangkanguru people, we had walked to the waterhole to research, document and decipher the past history of this landscape.

One of our group, the linguist, Luise Hercus, an 82 year old, European woman, was described to me, as a ‘Living National Treasure‘. She is “the preserver of the keys to the Simpson Desert, a living ark of near lost grammars, song cycles and words” (Nicolas Rothwell). Luise is the last fluent speaker of Dieri, Tirari, Wangkanguru and Arabana, and has been pivotal in recording and preserving aboriginal sacred sites and beliefs, and has inspired most of the research projects underway in the Simpson and it’s margins.

I watched while Luise and Nicolas Rothwell sat down, on a windswept dune above the site, talking.  She described to Nicolas how the last songman, Mick McLean Irinjili, had another name, Palku-Bula-Thanckaiwarnda, which meant two banks of cloud sitting down together, “Whenever you see two banks of cloud like that, he said, think of me”. And for the most part, that’s exactly what I do. Luise Hercus was widowed in 1973.


Highly Commended – Shonah Trescott, Wendy Sharpe in Paris

I befriended Wendy Sharpe at the National Art School when I was a student. She was a painter I much admired and I was fortunate to be a pupil in her class. As a teacher her enthusiasm, support and encouragement was pivotal to my position as a young female painter.

Wendy is now a close friend of mine whom I have shared the joy of painting, the passion of traveling and indeed, life!

I am currently working and living in Europe and when I can I visit Wendy on her travels.
I last visited her at her ‘Cite Des Arts’ studio residency in Paris where she was working up a storm! And I was struck by the energy of her work and the honest enjoyment she found in directly observing the lively streets of Paris.

The walls of her studio were covered, bursting with paintings of energy and freedom, and so too was the way I observed the painter, Wendy Sharpe in Paris.


Robin-Mary Calvert, Honky Tonk Women

My work more often than not involves the dress up box, playfulness, and unbridled wit, and is usually a tad risqué… It certainly could be seen as such as participants are always having reams of rich congenial fun since all inhibitions have been methodically stripped away.

In this instance, I have my two favorite models helping me to dress for what well…I’ll let you be the judge of that. This work could be a snapshot from one of my soirees involving the consumption of some fabulous wine or on this occasion, champagne out in the back in my studio (also my sanctuary). Because my paintings are autobiographical, it only seems fair, that I put myself in the picture, so to speak, thus I become the voyeur as well as the subject. The urgency is palpable as sentiments are being conveyed: life is to be had; life is short; life is a celebration.

These images, these “slices of life” are loaded with sexual tension and innuendo. As the focal point of the painting, I can contemplate, with a bit of a giggle, the games that we play and the exploration of our sexuality for the potential delight and bemusement of any voyeur who might be lurking in the vicinity. At times I step back and become the omniscient madam juxtaposed against those in the making. Empowered physically, emotionally, and sexually, I habitually portray myself as contemporary woman; confident, assured and determined to live, love, laugh. ‘Life’s a gift…unwrap



The 2006 Portia Geach Memorial Award attracted a submission of 309 works from which 60 works were selected for the exhibition at the S H Ervin Gallery, Observatory Hill from 30 September to 5 November.

This year’s event was held at the S H Ervin Gallery, Thursday 28 September.   Angela Clark, Chief Executive Officer, Macquarie Radio Network, gave the opening address.

Lucy Culliton won the Portia Geach Memorial Award 2006 for her painting titled “Self with Friends”.


Artistic Statement – Lucy Culliton
“I paint in my studio in the Kanimbla Valley.  Earlier this year, I spent a week in Sydney painting a serious portrait of a friend.

Keeping sketch book near, I also drew every other friend I caught up with that week and sat up making little gouaches from my studies.  When I returned to Hartley this painting was made.  It summed up my big week, lots and lots of portraiture practice and this being the last night out with my mentors, Ray and McLean (the ash tray is not full of butts- it’s my nervous craft of ripping coasters).”

Lucy Culliton is a painter living in Hartley, west of the Blue Mountains.  She is a prolific painter of landscape and still life and to a lesser degree portraiture.

Highly Commended – Joanna Braithwaite, Pleasant Point Revisited


Artistic Statement – Joanna Braithwaite
“Pleasant Point Revisited is a self portrait in which I contemplate the years I spent in a town called Pleasant Point and the experiences I had there as a youth. Symbolic of that time are the Guinea Pigs – I kept large numbers of them that bred rapidly – some of the cleverest ones escaped their enclosures and began living in the hedges on our property where they continued to grow in numbers. In this painting (with hindsight) I look back from the present to that time which was a very formative period in my life.”

309 artists entered this year’s competition with 60 being selected for the exhibition.

Judges for the 2006 Award were Barry Pearce, Aida Tomescu and Jane Watters.


Trust congratulates the Portia Geach Memorial Award 2005 winner Jude Rae for her winning painting titled “Large Interior (Micky Allan)”.

This year’s event was held at the S H Ervin Gallery, Thursday 29 September.   Deborah Thomas, Editorial Director, The Australian Women’s Weekly gave the opening address.

Jude Rae - “Large Interior (Micky Allan)”.

The room is a corner of my studio. There is a fuse box and an overhead projector on the filing cabinet next to Micky. The lens of the projector reminded me of the “eye-like” convex mirror in Van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Marriage” which reflects the artist who was witness to the wedding. Van Eyck is looking at us from the mirror, like the figure in Renaissance paintings (often the artist) that meets the eye of the viewer.

I think of painting as a series of material experiments with tradition and perception. Micky is a wonderful subject because she projects such a fine energy, the result of years of meditation. I am interested in the way Vermeer’s interiors present, in the most neutral sense, subjects as objects. The figure is caught in the same light and space as other objects in the room. It is the infusion of that objective space with subjective presence which distinguishes Vermeer. Object and subject are held in a balance, like that which occurs between breathing out and breathing in.

Jude Rae lives in Canberra and completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the University of Sydney, Post Grad Diploma in Professional Art Studies and a MFA (Painting).  She has held selected solo exhibitions Gitte Weise Gallery, Sydney and Berlin, and Jensen Gallery, New Zealand. Click here to view Jude Rae’s Curriculum Vitae.

Julie Fragar – “Portrait from 89cm” 

Artistic Statement – Julie Fragar

89cm is my daughter’s eye height. I painted this work referring to her view; the way she sees her mother. From a personal perspective this painting was made as a document of our changing relationship. As she ages her view will change, and I will likely be looking up at her. Recording a visual relationship between her and me, this painting also hijacks my daughter’s point of view as my own creation. In some ways this is like painting which absorbs the subject into its own framework.

Polly Ifould – “Jeffrey Smart: Artist at Play” 

Artistic Statement – Polly Ifould

As a devotee of Jeffrey Smart’s work, and since meeting him in the Greek Islands more than 30 years ago, he has been something of a hero to me. He thus became a compelling subject choice for one of my first major works.

It is a testament to his generosity of spirit that he welcomed me back into his life and encouraged my painting, despite my mature age and novice status.

Painting Jeffrey playing piano, surrounded by literature in his Tuscan home on a cold winter’s night, I hope I have portrayed the warmth and the many facets that make up this cultured, iconic artist.

315 artists entered this year’s competition with 60 being selected for the exhibition.

Judges for the 2005 Award were Cressida Campbell, Terence Maloon (Curator, Art Gallery of New South Wales), and Jane Watters (Director, S H Ervin Gallery).


2004 marked the 40th Anniversary for the Portia Geach Memorial Award. Wendy Sharpe, who won the Award in 1995 and again in 2003, officially opened the ceremony at the S H Ervin Gallery on Wednesday 6th October, 2004.

Trust congratulates the Portia Geach Memorial Award 2004 winner, NERISSA LEA for her work “The Sheik & Me, Self Portrait with Imagined Portrait of Chad Morgan after Frida Kahlo”.

Artistic Statement – Nerissa Lea

After seeing Chad Morgan perform in Tamworth I began thinking it would great to paint a portrait of him one day, after the famous Ingres portrait of Louis-Francois Bertin.

Mr Morgan mentioned to me that he had not been painted since 1962. I told him I would be back to paint him when I got the portrait thing right. So several efforts later I am getting closer. This painting is a portrait of me in my studio with an imagined portrait of Chad Morgan finished on my easel. The composition and the size of the painting was inspired by Frida Kahlo’s painting, Self Portrait with Portrait of Dr Farrill , 1951.

I have attempted in my work to tell stories about the strangeness of life familiar to us all.

Nerissa Lea completed a Bachelor of Fine art at the South Australian School of Art in 1982. Since then she has attempted in her work to tell stories about the strangeness of life familiar to us all.

Highly Commended – Catherine Fox for “Face 3: Self Portrait”.


Artistic Statement – Catherine Fox

Self-Portrait’ presents a continuing investigation into the relationship between the physical and psychological aspects of self-portraiture.

This is the most personally confronting and probably the most autobiographical self-portrait I have thus far produced. The abruptness of the cropping, or fragmentation, of my face and the full-frontal vantage point seemed to me to run a neat parallel of my life at this time. I see this work in both a humourous, comical way as well as in a decisive and sobering light.

The combination of objectivity, realism, subjectivity and humour are implicit in my work wherein I attempt to draw and paint the subtlety expressive gestures of the full figure, plus body fragments such as breasts, bottoms, backs and hands within allusive interiors or environments.

Over the last few years I have been exploring the nude within self-portraiture drawing upon my interest in observation, contemporary realism and mass media, the traditional and current representation of the female nude as well as my fascination with artists of the Victorian era such as Degas, Courbet and that of the Impressionists.

The Judges for the 2004 Award were Terence Maloon (Curator, Art Gallery of New South Wales), Wendy Sharpe (Artist) and Jane Watters (Director, S H Ervin Gallery).

315 artists entered this year’s competition with 60 being selected for the exhibition.