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Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award

A successful portrait, it's generally agreed – from the Archibald to The Portrait of a Senior Territorian – needs to embody more than just a likeness. But beyond careers, strong characters and passions, how do you convey that undeniable quality known as experience?

The annual Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award covers a rich tapestry of experience. A collection of portraits of people over the age of 60 – some well-known, most not – from cattlemen, elders, restaurateurs to a detective and a judge.  In a youth-obsessed selfie society, the portrait award gives artists a fascinating brief to explore age before beauty (and of course, often both).

This month the exhibition comes to Darwin, presented by the Araluen Arts Centre in partnership with the Darwin Entertainment Centre.

The Portrait of a Senior Territorian Award was this year launched at the Araluen Arts Centre in Alice Springs. This turned out to be fitting, as the three winning portraits were all of Centralians.

First prize went to Charles Darwin University Visual Arts Lecturer Henry Smith, for his technically skilled portrait of the Alice Springs writer Craig San Roque. Despite being friends, Smith initially found it tricky to capture San Roque’s inner life. 

“I just couldn’t get a measure of who Craig was because he’s got a public persona and I didn’t feel that I had him,” Smith says.

“He is quite an introspective kind of person and he writes. He’s written a number of books and he’s a psychologist, so he’s a thinker. Then I got something that I thought would portray, in some way, Craig.”

The judges were artists Therese Ritchie and Marlene Rubuntja (winner of the 2016 Vincent Lingiari Art Award) and Alice Springs criminal lawyer Russell Goldflam, whose top three choices followed notably different technical styles.

Second prize went to Jennifer Taylor’s bold, figurative 'Agnes Abbott shows where she ran away home from Arltunga Mission'. 

Third prize was won by Angus McIvor for his portrait of respected Alice Springs senior David Hewitt. 

The judges highlighted three other works from the 33 entries for their ‘technical skill and portrayal of the inner life of their subjects’, including Janelle Fisher’s detailed portrait of Pam Merington-Norman, Blake Kendall and M K Turner’s collaborative 'Kemarre Apmere' and the late Iain Campbell’s self-portraiture, 'In search of lost artworks'.

“There’s so much in terms of the depth of experience these people have had which then gets picked up by the artist,” says Mark Crees, Director of Araluen.

“The Portrait of a Senior Territorian had to be an actual sitting, because there’s so much that’s transferred in the physical sitting, and that’s kind of part of the genius of portraiture – being able to capture that.”

Still to be decided though, is the critical People’s Choice. Votes will be tallied at the conclusion of the Darwin exhibition for the $1000 prize, in which any entry is in the running.

Sun 8 Jul – Fri 4 Aug | Opening Sat 8 Jul, 6pm | Darwin Entertainment Centre

See the event listing.

Thumbnail image: Henry Smith, 'Craig San Roque' (detail), 2017, winner of the Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award Acquisition Award; courtesy of Araluen Arts Centre

Header image: Jennifer Taylor, 'Agnes Abbott shows where she ran away home from Arltunga Mission' (detail), 2015; courtesy of Araluen Arts Centre

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