National Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 – Living Memory

NPG Rob Palmer, The mahi-mahi, 2019 (detail)The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has announced significant changes to the 2021 edition of the popular annual photographic prize exhibition, including a larger, longer exhibition, themed to reflect our experience of events that have occurred in this historic year.

“The National Photographic Portrait Prize (NPPP) is known for capturing the uniquely Australian experience and spirit in any given year, and this year has been extraordinary,” said National Portrait Gallery Director, Karen Quinlan AM. “We want to mark this important period in our history with a special edition of the NPPP.”

“For the first time in the history of the NPPP, we are inviting photographers to consider the concept of Living Memory with a special focus on 2020. It would be fair to say that the vast majority of us have never experienced the events, change and upheaval in our lifetime as we have experienced during this unprecedented year.”

“The Gallery is looking forward to seeing works submitted that capture the small and large, the everyday and the extraordinary moments and experiences of Australians brought about by events this year – from global impacts to local resonances.”

“The isolation, constant change, and also the resilience and strength we’ve seen in our communities despite the difficulties and challenges posed by these events are elements we are sure we will see expressed through the lens,” said Ms Quinlan.

Ms Quinlan said changes to the 2021 NPPP exhibition also acknowledge and respond to the impacts the COVID 19 pandemic has had on the creative community. The call for entries has been extended and opens 1 December, and when the exhibition opens in late July next year it will be significantly larger, allowing more artists to be included in this long-running national event.

“The NPPP is extremely popular and also important – a way artists can have their work shown in a national gallery, alongside their peers,” she said. “This year we have increased the exhibition space in order to extend this opportunity to more artists, and for the first time we are also offering all finalists a supporting payment to contribute to the cost of participating, such as framing and freight.”

“We will also extend the duration of the exhibition, to allow for more people to visit. As is our usual practice, all finalists’ works will be included on our website,” said Ms Quinlan.

A stalwart of the NPG’s annual calendar, the NPPP offers substantial cash and equipment prizes for professional, amateur and aspiring Australian photographers. The 2021 edition will offer the four usual prizes, including the Winning Prize, Highly Commended and the Art Handlers and People’s Choice Awards. Additionally in 2021, the Gallery will be offering a professional development opportunity to an emerging photographer.

“We hope that this special edition of the NPPP will offer a powerful and historic visual record of the year that was, and will capture the unique ways in which we as individuals, and as a nation, responded to it,” said Ms Quinlan.

For more information on the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 – Living Memory, including key dates and entry terms & conditions, visit: for details.

Image: Rob Palmer, The mahi-mahi, 2019 (detail) – winner of the 2020 National Photographic Portrait Prize – courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery