When it comes to portrait painting, most of us think of the Archibald, Australia’s oldest and most prestigious prize. But not to be left out, the West has established its own highly lucrative competition, the Black Swan Prize, whose tenth running took place in October this year at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
For recently-crowned 2016 winner Rachel Coad, whose portrait ‘Indian Summer’ (above) wowed the judges with its blend of technical precision and raw emotional power, the $50,000 prize vindicates a life spent working in the arts. But she wasn’t the only artist to walk away a winner on the night: in the first of its kind in Australian portrait prizes, the finalists’ also voted for their favourite artwork in the $10,000 Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize, which was awarded to Mark Tweedie, for his portrait of close family friend Ken Bindle, titled ‘It wasn’t supposed to be like this’ (below).
With the Arts constantly under threat from funding cuts and market forces, the financial support offered by prizes such as the Black Swan are vital to the industry’s ongoing survival. As such, it falls on art-lovers across Australia to open up more than just their minds, but their wallets as well. Chris Prindiville