5 bluethumb Finalists in Australia’s Most Prestigious Female Art Prize

Awarded annually to recognise the talents and creativity of Australian female portrait painters, the Portia Geach Memorial Award has just announced this year’s finalists and we’re proud that five of our own artists made the cut: Tamara ArmstrongKaren BloomfieldKim Leutwyler, Kate Gradwell and Loribelle Spirovski.

Established by Florence Kate Geach in memory of her sister, Portia, $30,000 is awarded by the Trustee “for the best portrait painted from life of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, or the Sciences by any female artist resident in Australia during the twelve months preceding the close date for entries.” The award celebrated it’s 50th year in 2015, cementing its place as Australia’s most prestigious art prize for portraiture by female artists. We caught up with Sydney-based artist Kim Leutwyler just after the announcement to find out her reaction.

Kim Leutwyler in her studioKim Leutwyler in her studio

“I am truly humbled to be a finalist. Women that I respect and whose work I adore have been finalists over the years, and I am honoured to be counted among them.”

As Leutwyler explains, unfortunately this award is as necessary today as when it was first awarded 51 years ago. “The Portia Geach is incredibly relevant as an award that champions female artists. Even in 2016 major museums and galleries show no more than 20% of female artists, if any at all.”

Kim Leutwyler's portrait of Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore2016 Portia Geach Memorial Award finalist – Clover by Kim Leutwyler

Artist and activist Leutwyler creates figurative portrait paintings of LGBTQ-identified and Queer-allied women, most recently focusing on those who have impacted her life in some way. The subject of her Portia Geach entry, Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was an obvious choice and easy to coordinate as they are neighbours. “Her ‘outsider’ status as an Independent has allowed for 12 years of staggering results in favour of sustainability, the arts, public space development, responsible urban design and more,” explains Leutwyler about why she chose Moore. “She is also the first woman popularly elected Lord Mayor of Sydney. This year she was re-elected, winning by a landslide. We had a lovely time during her sittings both at her home and my studio.”

natasha_bieniek_sahara_2014_oil_on_wood_13.5x18.5cmWEB 2015 Portia Geach Memorial Award winner – Sahara by Natasha Bieniek

Leutwyler is excited about seeing the other finalists. “Some of my fav [sic] finalists from previous years include Wendy Sharpe and last year’s winner Natasha Bieniek! I can’t wait to see the other finalist entries for 2016 in November.”

The winner is announced early next month and the exhibition is open to the public from the 4th November to 18th December at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney. Fingers crossed we’ll have a bluethumb winner!

For more information visit the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s website.

Browse Kim Leutwyler’s paintings for sale.

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October’s Best Art Prize Exhibitions

  1. Rosa Fedele says:

    Hi Bluethumb team, me too! I’m a finalist in the Portia Geach too this year! Cheers, Rosa

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