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Portrait of Iconic Drag Queen, Tootsie Wins 2019 Kennedy Prize

BY JP Media | 03-Sep-2019
An emotionally poignant portrait of the late Australian drag icon Tootsie has won the 2019 Kennedy Art Prize.
Portrait of Iconic Drag Queen, Tootsie Wins 2019 Kennedy Prize
'Tootsie, Just an Old Drag Queen' By Jaq Grantford
The national visual art competition which continues to attract the attention of Australia’s finest visual artists awards $25,000 to the winner.

Award-winning portrait artist Jaq Grantford, who has been recognised internationally by Portrait Society of America, created the winning artwork – entitled Tootsie, Just an Old Drag Queen – using oil on canvas.

“I can’t begin to express how overjoyed I am. The Tootsie work has so much meaning for me. He was jailed for being gay and is now being celebrated for his beauty”, Ms. Grantford said.

In 1953, at the age of 20, Tootsie was jailed in Pentridge for two years simply for being gay. Then at the age of 62, he embarked on a grand new adventure and started to dress in drag and perform throughout the pub circuits of Melbourne, becoming famous in the Australian drag scene. Two weeks after seeing his portrait he passed away, aged 84.

Previous Kennedy Prize winner and 2019 Judge, Angus Hamra praised Grantford’s work.

"Jaq’s work addresses the theme of beauty by depicting life as an outsider,” Mr Hamra said.

“For the judges, the work managed to capture time in a specific moment, whilst giving us an insight into the hard but beautiful life that Tootsie lived.”

Grantford was revealed as the winner of the 2019 Kennedy Prize during last night’s 2019 Kennedy Prize Exhibition Launch event.

50 finalists, including Grantford’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 15.

Voting for a People’s Choice Award will be conducted during the exhibition, where an Instagram competition will offer the chance for exhibition goers can win a cash prize. Both are open to the general public and entry is free.

The Kennedy Prize is proudly sponsored by National Australia Bank and National Pharmacies.

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