Elli Bardas wins inaugural Martin Kantor Portrait Prize

BIFB Martin Kantor Portrait Prize Elli Bardas, Vicki Vidor OAM (detail)The Ballarat International Foto Biennale has announced photography student, Elli Bardas, the winner of the inaugural Martin Kantor Portrait Prize, with a black and white image of her aunt Vicki Vodor, beating more than 150 other entries and 27 finalists in the award.

The subjects of the eye-catching portraits, which are now on display at the Ballarat Town Hall, had to be of a significant, living Australian in the field of arts, letters, science, sports or politics. Ms Vidor OAM has been a board member of the Lighthouse Foundation, which supports homeless young people, for more than 20 years and is patron of the foundation’s Vicki Vidor Home for Young Mothers and Babies.

The selection was made by a professional panel of judges: Naomi Cass (Director, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Isobel Crombie (Assistant Director, NGV) and Leonard Vary (CEO, Myer Foundation). Judge Naomi Cass said the job of choosing a winner was tough for the experienced panel.

“This portrait stands within a tradition of black and white portraiture, maybe reminiscent of 1960s, and as the sitter leans toward us we are invited in,” said Ms Cass. “The subject is a mature and beautiful woman and we can see in this open face something of an inner light, perhaps life well lived, and her hands are active hands that have lived and worked.”

Supported by the Dara Foundation, the $15,000 acquisitive first prize is named in memory of the late Martin Kantor – a photographer and philanthropist who was known for his arresting portraits of famous musicians and artists such as Iggy Pop and Howard Arkley, as well as for his strong and active support of indigenous and environmental causes.

His image of Mark Seymour, the lead singer of Hunters and Collectors, was used by the band for an album cover and is a classic representation of Australian rock and roll. kantor founded the well-known St Kilda gallery Brightspace and was a strong supporter of indigenous and environmental causes.

An exhibition of the finalist portraits at Ballarat Town Hall feature a cast of well-known faces including SBS presenter Lee Lin Chin, actor Bryan Brown, performer Barry Humphries, musicians Tim Rogers, Nick Cave and Paul Kelly, and entertainer and comedian Wil Anderson.

The 2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale takes place at various venues throughout Ballarat until Sunday 17 September. For more information, visit: www.ballaratfoto.org for details.

Image: Elli Bardas, Vicki Vidor OAM (detail) – courtesy of Ballarat International Foto Biennale