Anthea da Silva wins Darling Portrait Prize

NPG Anthea da Silva, Elizabeth, 2019Anthea da Silva has won the inaugural $75,000 Darling Portrait Prize with a painting of the ‘high priestess’ of Australian contemporary dance, Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM.

The Darling Portrait Prize is a new national prize for Australian portrait painting honouring the legacy of Mr L Gordon Darling AC CMG (1921-2015), who was instrumental in establishing the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. The winning entry was announced last night at the National Portrait Gallery by Gordon’s wife, NPG Founding Patron and former Chair Marilyn Darling AC.

In making their selection, judges Professor Denise Ferris (Head of the ANU School of Art & Design), Tony Ellwood AM (Director of the National Gallery of Victoria) and National Portrait Gallery Director Karen Quinlan AM noted: “Anthea da Silva’s Elizabeth 2019 is a gentle, beguiling portrait that reveals the fragile, fluid nature of the human body.”

“Here is a woman who has spent her life moving and while she is captured here sitting, she looks set to leap. We were struck by the deliberate power of the seemingly unfinished elements of the work because, like Elizabeth, the complete picture is yet to be filled in – there is much yet for her to do.”

Anthea da Silva, who lives and works in Griffith, NSW, said Elizabeth Cameron Dalman AOM, the Founder and the first Artistic Director of the revered Australian Dance Theatre, is a constant source of inspiration. “I am inspired by Elizabeth’s constant reinvention as a dancer, choreographer, actor, director and environmental activist. Here, she is momentarily resting her feet at Mirramu Creative Arts Centre, near Bungendore, preparing for her next adventure.”

Judges noted the exceptional quality of entries from some of Australia’s most established artists and the wide range of subjects, awarding High Commendations to Sibone Heary for her self-portrait, titled The In Between, David Darcy for his depiction of 86 year-old Hunter Valley farmer Wendy Bowman, and Sean Hutton for his portrait of installation artist Tamara Dean.

“The Darling Portrait Prize is remarkable in that it includes a broad cross-section of sitters from many different walks of Australian life and each have been painted by some of Australia’s best known portrait artists,” said the judges. “Works from the 2020 finalist selection proves just how vital the portraiture artform is as a mode of expression for artists, and one that continues to capture and define the people, moments and emotions of our time.”

Finalists were selected for The Darling Portrait Prize, and their works are on show alongside the NPG’s popular and long-running National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition which will be announced next week on Friday 13 March.

Finalists for the Darling Portrait Prize are: Andrea Sinclair, Anna Minardo, Anne Middleton, Anthea da Silva, Ben Bickley, Betina Fauvel?Ogden, Caroline Zilinsky, Colleen Stapleton, Dagmar Cyrulla, Dalu Zhao, David Darcy, Dee Smart, Denis O’Connor, Elizabeth Barden, Gene Hart?Smith, Jana Vodesil?Baruffi, John Skillington, Jordan Richardson, Kate Beynon, Kathrin Longhurst, Kirsty Neilson, Liam Nunan, Megan Hales, Naomi Lawler, Narelle Zeller, Natasha Bieniek, Nick Kohler, Paul Newton, Sally Robinson, Sean Burton, Sean Hutton, Shirley Purdie, Sibone Heary, Todd Simpson, Tom Farrell, Vincent Fantauzzo, Warren Crossett, Wendy Sharpe, Yvonne East and Zoe Young.

The Darling Portrait Prize and the National Photographic Portrait Prize exhibitions are now on display at the National Portrait Gallery until 10 May 2020. Entry fees apply. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Anthea da Silva, Elizabeth, 2019 – courtesy of the Artist and the National Portrait Gallery