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Judges select exceptional shortlist of 60 contemporary Australian photographs from over 1,000 entries

BY Monash Gallery of Art | 01-Sep-2020
MGA, on behalf of the MGA Foundation, is thrilled to announce the shortlisted finalists for the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize. In 2020 MGA celebrates its 30th anniversary and the Bowness Photography Prize marks its 15th year. Over the last 15 years, the Bowness Photography Prize has emerged as an important annual survey of contemporary photographic practice in Australia and one of the most prestigious prizes in the country. The prize continues to showcase excellence in photography.
Venue: Monash Gallery of Art
Address: 860 Ferntree Gully Road Wheelers Hill VIC 3150
Date: Exhibition dates: 31 October 2020 – 17 February 2021
Ticket: Free
Web: http://mga.org.au/bowness-prize
: https://www.facebook.com/Bowness.Photography.Prize/
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EMail: bowness@monash.vic.gov.au
Call: 03 8544 0500
Judges select exceptional shortlist of 60 contemporary Australian photographs from over 1,000 entries
Tamara DEAN Tumbling through the treetops 2020 from the series In isolation pigment ink-jet print
110.0 x 160.0 cm courtesy of the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary (Sydney)

Congratulations to the following finalists:

Klari Agar, Belinda Allen, Sam Amar, Riste Andrievski, Emma Armstrong-Porter, Zoe Arnott, Robert Ashton, Narelle Autio, Reza Bagheri, Kate Baker, Charlie Barker, Chris Barry, Chris Bekos, Madeline Bishop, Tom Blachford, Paul Blackmore, Chris Bond and Drew Pettifer, Jesse Boyd-Reid, Jane Brown, Karen Burgess, Jane Burton, Danica Chappell, Ali Choudhry, Peta Clancy, Michael Cook, Nici Cumpston, Matteo Dal Vera and Michael Weatherill, Tamara Dean, Karla Dickens, Stephen Dupont, Louise Faulkner, Jacqueline Felstead, Anne Ferran, Ash Garwood, Amos Gebhardt, Tom Goldner, John Gollings, Philip Gostelow, Helen Grace, Lee Grant, Janina Green, Helen Grogan, Ponch Hawkes, Leila Jeffreys, Shea Kirk, Shivanjani Lal, Kelvin Lau, Honey Long and Prue Stent, Fiona MacDonald, Alister McKeich, Izabela Pluta, Greg Semu, Damien Shen, Slippage, Valerie Sparks, Cyrus Tang, Christian Thompson, Louise Whelan, Amanda Williams, Anne Zahalka

In light of COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on the sector the MGA Foundation has made a number of alterations to the prize this year. This includes extending the exhibition period over summer with a commitment to ensuring a physical as well as a virtual exhibition. The announcement of the $30,000 winner, Smith & Singer People’s Choice Award recipient of $5,000, and the Colour Factory Honourable Mentions will be celebrated at a special event to be confirmed in January 2021.

The judging panel this year is comprised of acclaimed artist Fiona Hall, NGA Senior Curator of Photography, Dr Shaune Lakin, and MGA Director, Anouska Phizacklea. Not deterred by the current restrictions, the judging panel selected the shortlist from over 1,000 entries, the most that has been received in the prize’s history. The amount and calibre of the entries necessarily sparked a robust debate around narrowing down the field and landing on works that speak to such a challenging and pivotal moment in history.

Fiona Hall commented ‘Great to view the range of subjects, and photo techniques, that have been submitted by entrants from equally diverse backgrounds and life experiences. And so interesting to see the visual responses by many artists to this strange year of 2020.’

Shaune Lakin commented, ‘I had a great time working with Fiona and Anouska looking through almost 2,500 photographs and trying over two days to whittle them down to a group of 60 finalists. I rarely get to see so many photographs by so many people in such an intense way, it was a real pleasure. And I love the way the finalists reflect the field of entries and the positions of the three judges – we are all there, in what is a diverse group of works. I can’t wait to see them in real life.’

Anouska Phizacklea commented, ‘We knew this year was going to be like no other. Over the summer period our country was ravaged by bushfires just at the precipice of the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept across the globe and changed how our society functions and how we live in the world. The dislocation that these events have had on society have been infused into the experience of artists and their practice. Some photographers this year have chosen to tackle the currency of these events, others have works that predate the fires and pandemic – there is an intensity to these works and one can read a pre-and post COVID-19 lens – the shortlisted artists illustrate its impact and the change that we all feel.’

Smith & Singer People’s Choice Award

Smith & Singer (previously Sotheby’s Australia) became the proud sponsor of the People’s Choice Award in 2018. Smith & Singer is Australia's premium fine art dealership facilitating the purchase and sale of important historical, modern and contemporary Australian and international art. Their significant philanthropic support of the Bowness Photography Prize is a reflection of the national and historic importance of this prize and the MGA Foundation is profoundly grateful.

History of the prize

In 2005 the MGA Foundation was established with the aim of supporting MGA and its significant collection. At the time, Bill Bowness was Chair of the Board, and, under his leadership, the Board and the newly constituted Foundation recognised the importance of providing a platform for contemporary Australian photographers to showcase their work, which would simultaneously raise the profile of MGA and its unique commitment to photographic art. The following year the MGA Foundation launched the inaugural William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize to promote excellence in photography across all photographic media and stylistic genres by both established and emerging artists with work produced within the last year.