Hot off the press…




Date: June 7, 2010   Anna Glover

An imposing portrait of writer, sinologist and literary critic Pierre Ryckmans, by Blue Mountains artist Mathew Lynn, has won the 2010 Shirley Hannan National Award for Portraiture.

Sydney Morning Herald art critic, author and lecturer John McDonald, who judged the award, announced the winner of the $30,000 prize at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery on Friday night.

He described the painting as “very strong, very confronting – staring straight at you with a good long stare from those blue eyes”.

Second Prize of $2,500 went to Dagmar Cyrulla for her “Life, Death and the Studio” which Mr McDonald described as “lose and subtly clever: it even has a skull and in art skulls are the new black”.

Mr McDonald also made special mention of Margaret Hadfield’s “Welcome to Country” portrait of Matilda House, “a magnificent picture”; local artist Richard Maude’s “The Love of Beauty (Jane Olsen No 1)” – “a warm and intimate painting” Paul Miller’s “Natasha” – “a wonderful representation”; and Marcus Callum’s “Claudia” – “a subtle portrait”.

Mr McDonald said the Shirley Hannan was a “really strong show and the quality of the work is high” and compared it favourably with the Archibald Prize which, he said, had become a farce.

“I go in there each year with diminished expectations and I am still disappointed. Then I go to the salon de refuses and I am disappointed all over again,” he said.

He said the rules and regulations of the Shirley Hannan, with their emphasis on realism and accurate depiction, were a help rather than a hindrance.

“Without rules and regulations things can get vague and awkward and you never know what is going on,” he said.

He said he had heard that Bega was about to undergo an explosion of development and urged that the community “don’t forget the arts” and include a “fabulous new gallery” in the transformation of the town centre.

In opening the exhibition, Mayor Tony Allen paid tribute to Shirley Hannan’s husband, Brian Settle, and Hannan family for their generosity in sponsoring the award.

“The Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award contributes greatly to the standing of the Bega Valley Regional Gallery and to the Shire generally as a place of importance when it comes to the arts,” he said.

Mr Settle said he was handing over that role of trustee of the award to Mrs Hannan’s son, Peter Hannan.

“He has assured me that the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award will continue to be a feature of the national and local artistic calendar for some time to come,” he said.

The exhibition will continue until July 3 in the Bega Valley Regional Gallery.

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