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Finalists Exhibition - Brisbane Portrait Prize

Home > Brisbane > Free | Exhibitions | Cultural Events | Art | Indoor
by Gillian Ching (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane who loves exploring quirky places with my dog. Join me on my quest to find, experience, and share fun things to do and interesting places to go.Please like, share and subscribe if you enjoy the articles.
Event: -
Portraits on show in Brisbane
See the finalists in this year's Brisbane Portrait Prize at the Brisbane Powerhouse throughout September and October.

About the Competition
The Brisbane Portrait Prize is an annual competition aimed at "celebrating Brisbane portrait artists and their sitters, while encouraging public engagement with the arts".

The competition has two categories - The Main Competition which is open to all entrants 18 and over and The Next Gen Prize which is open to entrants 18 and under. Financial prizes of this prestigious award range from $1000 to $50 000.




About the Exhibition

I visited the exhibition of the finalist's works at the Brisbane Powerhouse to see the pieces up close. The free exhibition, which runs from 29th September until 31st October 2021, features the works of 75 artists.

The exhibition is installed over 3 stories of the building and features both original paintings and photographs. Of course, The Powerhouse building is itself a piece of art reflecting its former life as a power station and its curious years of neglect which has left permanent marks of gritty faded graffitied, textured cement walls mixed with a selection of interior modern lighting.

After checking in, we started our viewing of the exhibition on the lower level. The dimness of the room was dark and moody which gave a sense of occasion.



Now to view the paintings. I did recognise some of the popular faces in the works. There were some familiar subjects from a range of disciplines such as:

Music and the Arts: Amy Shepherd, children's puppeteer and presenter Jamie Dunn and 60s singer Normie Rowe
Sport: Olympic Swimming greats and sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell
Politics: former athlete and Federal member, Nova Peris and one-time incarcerated journalist Peter Greste.

These images hung alongside everyday Australians with their own distinctive stories to tell.



Themes around COVID understandably featured strongly with images of dislocation, isolation, amusing choices of lockdown dress codes and caring for children at home. In their artists' notes, they shared the point that creating the artworks helped them to deal with their own losses of being disconnected from loved ones and yearning to engage more fully with the world. The portraits are all different and feature a range of styles and use of shapes, textures, space, and movement.



The 4 Next Generation portraits, created by artists under 18 years, were impressive. Some as young as 15 showed a maturity and disclosure beyond their years suggesting they have only just begun to explore their creative talents. I wonder what lies ahead for them.



What was my favourite image? Well, as a music tragic it was hard to go past the portrait of artist and musician Chris Doherty aka Reg Mombassa by Amanda Penrose Hart. It was a simple but memorable image of the Mambo artist wearing his standard suit against an olive background. Reg is a popular subject and was also painted for the 2020 competition.

Photo courtesy Brisbane Portrait Prize


Overall, it was an enjoyable and interesting collection of some of Brisbane's best artists. I left wondering what new and developing pieces are being created right now and what other artists we would also benefit from seeing. Well, I guess we will have to wait until next year's competition to uncover and enjoy even more talent.

We finished our visit with a drink at Mary Mae's cafe, below the Powerhouse, to take in the view of the river and reflect on what we had experienced.

Mary Mae's


The Brisbane Powerhouse is located two kilometres from the Brisbane Central Business district at 119 Lamington Street, New Farm (beside New Farm Park). There are many travel options to the venue including bus, ferry, cycle, walk or car.

The Brisbane Powerhouse


What else
If you are keen to visit the exhibition, entry is free. You can book your tickets here. The exhibition is open from 10.30am to 4.30pm, 7 days a week. Tours are offered each day at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm.

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Mary Mae's
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Why? Some of the Best Examples of Portraiture in Brisbane
When: 10:30 am - 4:30pm
Where: Brisbane Powerhouse
Cost: Free
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