artist Kathrin Longhurst sitting in front of her artworks.

Talented and Fierce: Kathrin Longhurst is Back to Judge the 2022 Bluethumb Art Prize

German-Australian artist Kathrin Longhurst has been a figurehead in the Australian art sphere. With 19 solo shows completed by 2022, she has been sharing her realistic portraits across Australia and has been included in numerous international exhibits. 

Kathrin’s journey with art began at age 14 when she attended life-drawing classes in her home town of East Berlin. This sparked her interest in portraiture – specifically, in capturing the juxtaposition of strength and vulnerability in females.

Kathrin Longhurst painting artwork.

Kathrin Longhurst painting her 2018 Archibald entry ‘Self: past, present and future’.

Kathrin felt as if she had to conform to society’s expectations of “building a traditional career in business”, where she initially studied a business degree at university. But due to her mental and physical health she suffered pursuing this safer yet unfulfilling career path, she decided to make the change and instead pursue her passion for art. Meaning she has successfully created a living as an artist by not going “through the traditional route of art school”, which she says can be “a curse and a blessing”.

One of the biggest influences on Kathrin’s work is the Communist propaganda used in the German Democratic Republic, and the socialist realism within. These political messages used strong imagery of brave women. But Kathrin’s work is also inspired by the classic American pin-up style, with a sprinkle of sassiness and sexiness. The mixture of these two styles has been able to shine light on uncomfortable topics that Kathrin has no issue voicing. Her inspiration behind the themes of her work comes from “current affairs and podcasts” as well as “thought leaders and friends” who share her passion for “social justice.”

Kathrin has stopped apologising for any discomfort her work invokes in viewers, as she believes subtlety is no longer working to help combat gender stereotypes and sexism. Her latest exhibition ‘Mind-Field’ spotlights the social issues and disadvantages that women face daily. Kathrin has used her symbolic propaganda style in her latest body of work, which was recently displayed in Flinders Lane Gallery from April to May this year and received high praise from artists and critics alike.

A finalist in the 2018, 2021, and more recently 2022 Archibald Prize, Kathrin has certainly made her mark on the art world. She was awarded the Packing Room Prize in 2021 for her ‘Portrait of Kate Ceberano’. The portrait is a photorealistic portrayal of Kate that highlights her strength and confidence. Kathrin initially reached out to Kate in 2020 for the idea of painting one of the singer’s album covers. Due to the multiple Melbourne lockdowns, Kathrin was unable to begin this piece until after the album was released, but Kate still jumped at the opportunity to still go ahead. 

Kathrin Longurst sitting next to her Packing Room winning art.

Kathrin Longhurst’s winning Packing Room piece ‘Portrait of Kate Ceberano’.

Kathrin was once again awarded finalist in this year’s Archibald Prize, for a piece from her Mind-Field series of Midori Goto. From working on this eye-catching painting, Kathrin found her experiences were mirrored in Midori’s. With their shared past trauma they were able to connect on a deeply personal level, allowing Kathrin to truly display her subjects’ strength and rebellious nature. 

We were lucky enough to have Kathrin judge the Bluethumb 2021 Art Prize, where she helped to decide our winning piece ‘Mirror into Mirror’ by Loribelle Spirovski, who is also joining the judging panel this year. You can read more about Loribelle here

Speaking of the Art Prize, Kathrin explains that she is drawn to artworks that “tell a story or invoke a reaction.” We asked Kathrin what she will be looking for as a Bluethumb Art Prize judge this year, and she’s wanting to see a “personal story and human connection” in the entries, wanting them to “make her feel because art should not leave you indifferent”.

You can see Kathrin’s Bluethumb favourites in her very own Bluethumb Art Prize Judge’s Picks curation.

Kathrin Longhurst sitting between her artworks.

Kathrin Longhurst sitting between her artworks.

Kathrin’s own pieces certainly tell a story, and the reactions that garner them aren’t always positive. But she’s not afraid to step outside of that comfort zone and be a voice for women. 

Longhurst’s biggest lesson learned throughout her whole experience is to remember to “stop and smell the roses”, making sure “little successes” are celebrated once achieved. She’s found patience in her work and herself to be something she’s still learning to work on, and to look back at the goals she’s achieved so far. So to any emerging artists who often feel like they need to practise patience, then remember that even successful artists like Kathrin find it challenging to maintain focus on long term artistic goals.

The 2022 Bluethumb Art Prize has already blown us away with the showstopping and unique entries in the running to win the top spot. With a whopping $250,000 prize pool, this year’s prize is the biggest and richest in Australia! Entries close September 5 – we can’t wait to see what you create!

Enter now!

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