The announcement was made in an official opening and presentation ceremony at Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah on Saturday night (17 July). The ceremony was live-streamed so finalists from across the country, who were unable to attend due to travel restrictions, could join in the celebrations.
D-Mo’s Vice Versa was selected as the winning portrait from a field of 72 finalists, including emerging and established photographers from around Australia. D-Mo is the 11th artist to win the Award, which was first presented in 2005.
A strong showing of more than 600 entries were received this year for the biennial award, which is funded by Olive Cotton’s family and dedicated to her memory as one of Australia’s leading 20th Century photographers.
The Award was judged by Michael Cook, one of Australia’s most significant photo-media artists. Mr Cook visited the Gallery earlier this week to view all the entries in person, contemplating his shortlist for some days before making his final decision.
Mr Cook said the winning work was not only technically strong but also emotionally evocative, asking questions of the viewer. “It makes me think about who she is, where she’s from, and where she might be going. I like the suggestive nature of this image, which creates conversation – in my view an important role for art,” he said
Mr Cook also Highly Commended a number of other works: Rusty Crawshaw for his portrait The Dengs; Shea Kirk for her portrait Hairstory; Gerrit Fokkema’s Merv in the Long Grass, Dubbo; Judith Martinez Estrada’s Absent/Present; and Craig Tuffin’s THE SUPERS #2.
Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc., Gerwyn Davies’ Float was acquired for the Gallery’s collection, with Director Susi Muddiman OAM awarding it the 2021 Director’s Choice.
Ms Muddiman described Davies’ work as a dynamic contemporary addition to the Gallery’s collection. “The artist’s depiction of queer identity and self is an exciting complement to our photographic collection,” she said.
Ms Muddiman also singled out the following works as deserving special attention: Rusty Crawshaw’s The Dengs; Tim Hiller’s Jess and the outside; Tajette O’Halloran’s Lismore; Judith Martinez Estrada’s Absent/Present; Isabella Moore’s Bruce Pascoe; Russell Shakespeare’s The Artist Judy Watson; Craig Tuffin THE SUPERS #2; and Greg Weight’s Harry Highpants with Seated Figure.
Visitors to the Olive Cotton Award exhibition can cast their own vote in the People’s Choice Award. The finalist with the most votes will receive $250.
The exhibition will continue until Sunday 19 September 2021. Entry to view the exhibition is free. For more information about the Olive Cotton Award, visit: www.artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: D-Mo, Vice Versa, 2021 (detail). Digital print on Hahnemuhle photo rag. Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.