Victorian Artist Finalist in International 'Oscars of Portraiture.'
Presenters of the award, which is regarded as the ‘Portraiture Oscars,’ declared Kearney’s ‘86 (rhyming slang for worth nix)’ as an example of “the very best in contemporary portrait painting.” The UK’S most revered art critics judge the award at the National Portrait Gallery in London and only a few Australian artists have reached the final 52 selected artists, a rare accolade.
According to Kearney, the opportunity to have her art displayed at the National Portrait Gallery will transform her career. A photorealistic painter, Kearney is a self-taught artist, beginning her artistic career at the age of 43.
“I am a 54-year-old woman who has worked hard to teach myself to paint. Appearing in the London Portrait Gallery means I am flying the flag not only for Australia, but for older female artists, for those without the ‘right’ connections and for those who don’t have a formalised fine arts background or a university degree,” Kearney said.
Kearney’s oil painting, titled ’86 (rhyming slang for worth nix)’ represents her passion for weaving narrative symbolism within straight forward images. Her body of work tackles some of society’s most challenging concepts, such as marriage equality, youth homelessness and the flawed mental health system.
‘86’ is the second piece of Kearney’s to be recognised by the judges in the BP Portrait Award, after her 2015 piece, ‘Miasma’ from her Dystopia series went through to the top 200 in the judging.
Without favouring reputation, popularity or connections, submissions for the BP Portrait Award are anonymous to ensure only the best are acknowledged. The top 3 finishers are awarded a share of the £61,000 (almost $105,000 AUD) in total prizes. The art works will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from 22 June - 24 September 2017, then go on tour to Exeter City Art Gallery (4 October – 4 December, 2017), Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (11 December, 2017 – 19 March, 2018) and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (26 March – 11 June, 2018). It is estimated that over 500,000 people will attend the touring exhibition over the 12-month period.
During the BP Portrait Award’s 28-year history, artworks by over 1,400 emerging artists and firmly established professionals from around the globe have been exhibited, with more than 4 million visitors experiencing the creative works.