The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize is the richest awarded art prize in Australia. The brief is for Australian artists to paint a portrait of someone known or unknown to them and to interpret the persons look and personality. The thousands of entries are culled to semi-finalists, then a final 30 (all of whom receive $1000) and a finalist winner, who receives $150,000.
The Moran Family established the award in 1988 and the finalists will be on exhibition in Paddington Sydney from November this year.
Gold Coast artist Samantha Beau has been selected as a semi-finalist with her portrait Maree Widow of a War Veteran. The finalists will be announced as this edition of Blank goes to print.
Sam has given us an insight to her portrait of Maree.
- When did you first start painting?
I’ve been painting since I was a child but only recently have, I considered a full-time career shift. Being an artist in Australia is a tough career path. My natural medicine business has got me to now, but my plan is that art will become my main career.
- Why did you choose Maree as the subject?
The reasons were many. She has been a nanny to my kids for 12 years and her husband Johnny was a returned Vietnam veteran. Over the years I have got to know Maree and Johnny. Johnny was quite depressed and negative after the war. Many war casualties are psychological and not physical. My son seemed to help him find the happy switch again and it was wonderful to see. I painted him for the Archibald 6 years ago and then he died later that year at 62 yo. Maree now soldiers on and seemed a perfect representative of a veteran’s widow.
- What have you tried to achieve with the portrait?
Maree is indicative of many women her age. She married young and has stuck by her husband through thick and thin. Many soldiers that have returned from war zones, even peace keeping deployment, have unreconciled scars and hurts. The shrapnel of war is not always visible. It can penetrate into one’s soul and stay there, haemorrhaging joy until it is removed, and healing can occur. I think many don’t receive the guidance they need to do this important healing step.
I wanted to capture Maree’s happy disposition but pay tribute to the women she represents. Her silhouette reveals the veteran’s anguish of being alone, against a khaki toned horizon. Loneliness and despair are rife.
- What do you hope to achieve with the portrait and message?
Well winning will be a game changer for me and my three children. I have worked hard for many years and been a single parent has been a juggle. The prize will change our lives for sure. The other message is that I want to convey is one of gratitude. Gratitude for the men and women who have been to war to fight for our democracy and way of life, and for those who are married or partners to them.
Gold Coast Bulletin