Lockdown Portrait of Acclaimed Artist’s Husband Wins 2021 Kennedy Prize

Published by: Jeff Smith | 11-Sep-2021
A deeply personal portrait created during lockdown by award-winning Australian artist Sally Robinson celebrating her husband Bruce Pussell’s unconventional ‘beauty’ has won the 2021 Kennedy Prize. The respected national visual art competition, which was postponed in 2020, has attracted a record-breaking number of entries this year from Australia’s finest artists for the $25,000 prize.
Award-winning portrait artist Sally Robinson, who is two-time winner of the prestigious Portia Geach Portrait Award, created the winning artwork – entitled Bruce Squared – using acrylic on wood panel.

“Winning the 2021 Kennedy Prize has been a significant highlight after being in lockdown in Sydney for nearly three months. I am delighted by this news. As a portrait painter, it has been challenging to find subjects due to the COVID restrictions. It was an advantage that my husband has been readily available during this period”, Robinson said.

Robinson was introduced to her husband by friends over thirty years ago. The inspiration for the work grew from the idea that recognition of a face is determined from viewing a complex amalgam of our features rather than a particular one.

“I am familiar with every aspect of Bruce’s face. I decided to paint his features splayed, opened out, superimposed and tiled together to show all the unique elements in one painting”, Robinson said. According to Kennedy Prize coordinator, Mark Kennedy the 2021 Prize comes at a crucial time for the visual arts who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After the unfortunate postponement last year due to the pandemic we are pleased to be able to provide a much-needed beacon of hope for the visual arts industry. We are so grateful to our artists and supporters who have ensured that the Kennedy Prize can continue to make an impact on the Australian arts scene”, Kennedy said.

Kennedy Prize Judge, John Lacey said that Robinson’s work instantly connected with the judging panel.

"This painting has the ‘X’ factor and works incredibly well. Overall Sally’s work is beautifully painted and has warmth and kindness, a wonderful depth and volume that has been captured by imagination and abstraction”, Lacey said.

“I have to quote Sally Robinson in her submission, “In his seventies, Bruce is not traditionally beautiful, but he is beautiful to me.”

Robinson was revealed as the winner of the 2021 Kennedy Prize during last night’s 2021 Kennedy Prize Exhibition Launch event.

50 finalists, including Robinson’s winning artwork, are on display at the Kennedy Prize Exhibition in the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts at the State Library until Sunday, September 25.

For more information and to view the list of finalists, please visit www.kennedyprize.com.au

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