Calling all artists: $30,000 photography prize

Brooke Boland

The Bowness Photography Prize champions contemporary Australian photographic practice.
Calling all artists: $30,000 photography prize

Polixeni Papapetrou Delphi, 2016 (detail), from the series Eden. Pigment ink-jet print 127.5 x 85.0 cm. Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection. Courtesy of the Estate of Polixeni Papapetrou and Michael Reid (Sydney + Berlin). Image supplied.

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Entries to the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize are now open. Established by the MGA Foundation, the prize is known for promoting excellence in photography across all photographic media and stylistic genres. The prize cuminates in an exhibition of the finalists at MGA, the Australian home of photography, which opens to the public on 29 September.

Monash Gallery of Art (MGA) Director Anouska Phizacklea said the prize ‘brings people from all over the country because they want to see what’s going on in contemporary Australian photography’.

She continued: ‘When you have a showcase like this, which is really creating a snapshot of Australian photography today, you open people’s eyes up to what else is going on and different modes of photographic practice. It’s really exciting and I think that’s one of the prize’s strengths.’

The exhibition opening saw artists flock to MGA [last year] because it gives them a platform they don’t normally have. It’s a wonderful celebration of what’s going on,’ she added.

The prize is open to established and emerging photographers and there are no thematic restrictions. All film-based and digital work from amateurs and professionals is accepted for entry.

View guidelines here

Last year, the MGA Foundation announced that the prize would become an acquisitive award. Additionally, the cash prize was increased to $30,000. This year, another interesting change has occurred with the removal of previous size restrictions.

‘We wanted to make sure we represent all artists’ practice, so we removed the size restrictions. There are a number of photographic artists who work in larger sizes today as it becomes more accessible to produce larger scale work.’

Entries are now open, closing 11 July, with finalists to be announced 10 August. Celebrated Australian artist Polixeni Papapetrou, who passed away earlier this year, won in 2017 for her work Delphi. Previous winners also include Petrina Hicks, Joseph McGlennon and Valerie Sparks.

Petrina Hicks Venus 2013, from the series The shadows. Pigment ink-jet print 100.0 x 100.0 cm. Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash Collection, courtesy of the artist and Michael Reid (Sydney + Berlin). Image supplied.

‘We’ve had some amazing artists who have commented on the impact it’s had on their career. Pat Brassington, who won in 2013, has commented that her career was fairly well grounded at the time, but the challenge and even self-doubt never really fades and that the award lifted her confidence and strengthened her resolve to continue pursuing her career,’ Phizacklea said.

‘Petrina Hicks has also spoken about the prize having a strong impact on her career because it really garnered attention and greater respect for her work. We want to keep providing artists with this platform, generating new audiences and showcasing their work.’

The MGA Foundation is pleased to introduce the juding panel which includes Director of the Art Gallery of NSW Dr Michael Brand, Melbourne-based artist David Rosetzky, and Phizacklea. This calibre of judges reinforces the high standing and prestige of the prize in the Australian arts community. 

Visit mga.org.au/bowness-prize to find out more. 

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.

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