It is always a pleasure to hear the dulcet tones of Richard Morecroft who emceed the announcement of Australia’s richest art prize, the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize for 2019 worth $150,000 to the artist’s winning entry.

Entries of original works must capture Australians from all walks of life, whether a public figure or someone from their own social and collegiate circle.

Works must be painted at least partly from life with the sitter aware of  the artist’s intention to enter the Prize The judges were Kelly Gellatly, who is currently the Director of the Ian Potter Museum Of Art  at the University of Melbourne, Nigel Milson, a Doug Moran National Portrait Prize winner in 2013, and Peter Moran, the Managing Director of the Morn Health Care Group, whose parents Greta and Doug Moran established the Moran Arts Foundation  and the Prize itself during the Australian bicentennial celebrations in 1988. Greta Moran was present for the announcement.

The Moran Article ts Foundation is a philanthropic, not for profit organisation whose objective is to support the arts in Australia through the Moran Contemporary Photographic prizes, the free Moran School Photographic Workshops, Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and the provision of Juniper Hall in Paddington as an exhibition space.

The judges stated that they had a very difficult task. Close to 1,000 artists entered who then had to be cut down to 139 semi-finalists. Thereafter the top 30 works were selected by all the judges each year. The finalists  each received $1000 and their artworks are all on display at Juniper Hall.

The winner was Blue Mountains based artist What for his portrait of Robert Forster, the former lead singer of the  Go-Betweens  The judges were taken by the shimmering effect of the Work captured by What. His receipt of the Prize was a life changing event and when queried about his name he replied ‘I like to keep a bit of mystery’.   What graduated from the National Art School which he entered at 17 years of age 30 years ago.

Other portraits  on show are of former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, actors Sigrid Thornton, Noah Taylor, Matt Nable, Barry Otto and designer Kym Ellery ‘

Featured image: Ben Howe & his Matilda Portrait. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum