Another portrait? Didn't you say you don't do people?

The Olive Cotton Award, run by the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre in NSW, is a biennial award for portraiture and it has always interested me. From the controversial 2017 winner, Justine Varga, to the amazing Trent Parke (2013), the entries have always pushed the boundaries of the definition of a portrait.

Spurred on by the success of my idea for the NPPP, I felt another idea for a portrait forming and this time I knew it could only ever be an entry in the Olive Cotton Award. You can see part of the image above. You will notice that there is no person in it, yet there is. To explain, here is my accompanying artist statement:

"My father and I had a deep connection that was not diminished after he suffered a hypoxic brain injury, the result of a heart attack. As were his wishes, when he passed away, I had him cremated. I had no idea that afterwards I would struggle so much with this. He no longer had a place, something that helps maintain a connection with our memories. My father now remains in limbo, in a container, in a paper bag, in a cupboard and it is not where he should be. This is my father."

Like for the NPPP, after submitting my entry, I forgot about it and carried on with life. It was while on a road trip around New Zealand's South Island, and on the anniversary of my dad's passing, that I received the email advising that I had been selected as a finalist for the 2021 Olive Cotton Exhibition. I was stunned!

I couldn't believe it! I began to panic. Being a finalist meant that I had a very, very short window of time to get the image printed and framed and sent to Murwillumbah. I was in New Zealand, in an RV, and did not have the file with me. Then there was a COVID-19 breakout in Melbourne and things quite swiftly turned to custard!

Luckily for me there are amazing people like Peter Hatzipavlis from FINAL GRADE Fine Art Printing, and Yuho Imura from FINI Frames, who understood the urgency and made my framed portrait happen well within the timeframe. It is now waiting to be picked up by IAS Fine Art Logistics Pty Ltd and whisked away to Murwillumbah.

The announcement of the 2021 Olive Cotton Award took place on 17 July 2021. I didn't win but I am still so thrilled to have been a finalist and to have my portrait hanging in the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.

The full image, "My Father".