Kilgour Prize winner shines a light on the female black voice

Artist Blak Douglas painted friend Ursula Yovich. Photo by Sally Tsoutas.

Sydney-based artist Blak Douglas has won one of Australia’s most lucrative art prizes, the 2019 Kilgour Prize.

Mr Douglas was announced the winner at the Newcastle Art Gallery exhibition launch last Friday and took home $50,000 in prize money.

Queen of her own stage, a portrait of proud Larrakia woman, actress and singer Ursula Yovich, was chosen by a panel of three judges, beating hundreds of entries and 30 finalists.

Blak Douglas’s winning painting Queen of her own stage. Photo supplied.

A self-taught painter trained in photography and illusion, Mr Douglas was born in Blacktown, Western Sydney. His social justice-inspired style was influenced by graphic design study.

“My dear friend Ursula Yovich, actress and songstress dynamo, has always been on my list of subjects to paint,” Mr Douglas said.

“This painting is all about her and is a metaphor for the female black voice. I asked Ursula to stand upon a chair for the pose because I saw it as a metaphor for Aboriginal voices to be heard.”

The Kilgour Prize is an annual award for figurative and portrait paintings, and consists of $50,000 for the winning artist and $5,000 for the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

The prize money was funded through the Trust Company, part of Perpetual using donated money from Australian artist Jack Noel Kilgour.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes who announced Mr Douglas as the winner, said the competition was in its ninth year and the Kilgour Prize continues to attract many entrants and a significant audience to the gallery.

 “The breadth and depth of artistic talent on show in this year’s Prize is truly impressive, with the diversity and quality of the entries reaching new heights each year,” Ms Nelmes said.

“I congratulate Blak Douglas on joining a prestigious list of accomplished artists to have taken out the Kilgour Prize.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton who was one of the three judges, said the competition encourages Australian artists of portraiture and figurative painting to push the boundaries.

“This year’s 30 finalists are perhaps the strongest and most interesting entries we’ve had in the history of the Kilgour Prize,” Ms Morton said.

The 2019 Kilgour Prize exhibition showcases at Newcastle Art Gallery from August 3 to October 13.

More information on the exhibition can be found at: http://nag.org.au/Exhibitions

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