Griffith alumni vie for prized art awards

Monica Rohan's entry in this year's Archibald Prize features a portrait of Brisbane fashion icons Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson.

FOUR Griffith University alumni are among the finalists in two of the most prestigious awards for artists in Australia.

The Queensland College of Art (QCA) graduates are vying for honours in both the Archibald Prize and the Sir John Sulman Prize, the winners of which are to be announced on July 15.

Monica Rohan, a 26-year-old rising star in the Queensland art scene, and Tony Albert, the 2016 Fleurieu Art Prize winner, are among the 51 finalists in the prestigious Archibald Prize.

Works by fellow QCA alumni NoelMcKenna and Arryn Snowball also are up for selection in the Sir John Sulman Prize.

Monica’s entry features Brisbane fashion icons Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, the founders of the Easton Pearson label.

The work, which is dominated by a splash of vibrant fabric drawn from the Easton Pearson collection, is the first entry in the Archibald Prize for the QCA graduate who was selected last year to display her work at the inaugural GOMA Q exhibition for emerging Queensland artists.

Monica said portraiture was a major focus for her work in general, although she conceded that the Archibald Prize entry strayed from her normal style.

“It’s probably the most ‘straight’ portrait I’ve done,” she said, noting that her work usually takes a more abstract path.

The Beaudesert-born artist, a 2011 Honours graduate from QCA, said she was pleased that both Ms Easton and Ms Pearson agreed to pose for her Archibald entry.

“They have been great supporters of the arts,” she said.

Tony Albert’s self-portrait is among 51finalists in the 2016 Archibald Prize

Tony Albert, a founding member of Brisbane’s Indigenous art collective proppaNOW, is a multi-award-winning artist who has chosen a self-portrait for his Archibald Prize entry.

The work draws on Brownie Downing’s famed child-like character Tinka as the artist creating Tony’s image on canvas. Tony described the work as an ‘act of reconciliation’, where ‘Tinka paints me and I paint Tinka’.

Throughout his work, the Brisbane-based artist adds a deep human dimension to the Indigenous perspective, sometimes drawing on elements that portray racial stereotypes as key impact points in his art.

The Sir John Sulman Prize, which is awarded for Australia’s best subject painting, genre painting or mural project, is now in its 81st year and there are 25 works selected as finalists for 2016.

Aaryn Snowball’s entry draws on the renowned artist’s penchant for working with shadow and light. House of Breath No 7 is described as a work that is ‘floating on the edge of abstraction’.

Noel McKenna, whose art often focuses on the seemingly banal of daily life, is making his third appearance in as many years as a finalist of the Sir John Sulman Prize.

His latest offering, The Writer’s Cats, doesn’t stray from that theme as Noel offers a glimpse of the essence of this unnamed writer through his personal living space.