Janelle Thomas wins Kilgour Prize 2015

Congratulations to Janelle Thomas winner of the Kilgour Prize, 2015. 


Awarded $50,000 as the most outstanding work of art, Sydney based artist Janelle Thomas’s portrait Helen Ross, 94 with Kirsty was a unanimous decision amongst the judges.

Introducing classical principles to her contemporary painting practice, Thomas balances an interest in formal treatment of aesthetics with a deeper appreciation of human sensitivities. In the case of Helen Ross, 94 with Kirsty, the work is poignant in its intimate representation of the sitter’s everyday life and personal story.

Commenting on the inspiration behind her work, Thomas stated, “At 94, Mrs Helen Ross brims with vitality and dignity. I admire Helen’s spirit and contribution to her community as she tirelessly organises and assists local groups. Helen also published her first novel at age 88. Her latest book, Short Stories, 2014, captures some of her rich life experiences.”

“I minimised the background to focus the portrait on the strong relationship between Helen and her dog Kirsty. Helen credits Kirsty with saving her life after Archie, her beloved husband of 66 years, passed away.”

The figurative and portrait painting prize was judged this year by Angus Trumble, Director of the National Portrait Gallery; Professor Ross Woodrow, Director of Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research and Lauretta Morton, Newcastle Art Gallery Manager.

Impressed by the strong group of finalists, Lauretta Morton commented, “The quality of this year’s Kilgour Prize submissions was top notch and our first challenge was to choose 30 finalists from a field of over 140 entries from across the country.”

“We found choosing the winner even more challenging, however upon assessing the entries up close all three judges separately selected Janelle Thomas’s sensitive portrait Helen Ross, 94 with Kirsty in their top three. The judges agreed that her very personal portrait was deftly executed and encapsulated the strong bond and personality of the subjects. It is our pleasure to award this year’s prize to Janelle.”

An annual art prize, the Kilgour Prize was established by Jack Noel Kilgour (1900-1987), an Australian artist well known for his landscape and portrait painting. In 1987 Kilgour bequeathed funds for the creation of what is now one of Australia’s major art prizes.

The exhibition of finalists will be on show until February, there is also a $5000 People’s Choice Award, so put on your critic’s hat and makes some lucky artist’s day.

Kilgour Prize 2015
14 November 2015 –  7 February 2016
Newcastle Art Gallery

Image: Janelle Thomas, Helen Ross, 94 with Kirsty 2015 oil on linen 86.0 x 81.0cm. Artist collection

Courtesy the artist and Newcastle Art Gallery.

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