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Email Link   Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture


Winner Olive Cotton Award 2015
The 2017 The Olive Cotton Award is now open for entries. Download the entry information here (620kB PDF).

The Award is open to artists living and working in Australia who are Australian citizens or have been Australian residents for 12 months or more. The entry must be: a new portrait completed since 1 April 2015, owned and created by the artist; not previously exhibited (including online but excluding the entrant’s personal webpage or social media platform), shown in competitions or awarded a prize; photographic, archivally sound, still and two-dimensional; within the size limits and able to be hung on or pinned to Gallery walls. The Judge will be looking for excellence in photographic technique, creativity and originality to the standards prescribed by the Director, Tweed Regional Gallery.

Entry is limited to one per person and the entry fee is $33.00 (incl. GST). Entry form, fee and image must be received by 5.00pm Friday 12 May 2017.
Entry Fee can be paid by credit card either by providing details on the entry form or over the phone, by cheque or money order, or by cash in person.
Please note our online payment facility via PayPal is temporarily unavailable. This problem should be rectified by the close of business on Tuesday 2 May.

To find out more please download the entry conditions and entry form (620kB PDF) or contact the Gallery on 02 6670 2790 or via email

image: Natalie Grono
Pandemonium's shadow 2015
pigment inkjet print
Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2015

Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture - Background Information

A $20,000 biennial national award for excellence in photographic portraiture dedicated to the memory of Olive Cotton, one of Australia’s leading twentieth century photographers. The winning work is acquired for the Gallery’s Collection.
The exhibition is selected from entrants across Australia and is a significant opportunity for both emerging and established photographers.

In 2005 Tweed Regional Gallery launched the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, funded by Olive Cotton’s family and dedicated to her memory as one of Australia’s leading twentieth century photographers.
The Award has grown and gained national recognition attracting entries from well-known and emerging photographers across Australia.

The Olive Cotton Award now boasts a major acquisitive biennial prize of $20,000, selected by the Award judge. In addition, the Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc. fund $4000 for the acquisition of portraits from the exhibition entries to be chosen by the Gallery Director. Visitors to the exhibition may also vote for their 'people’s choice', which awards $250 for to the most popular finalist.

The Gallery thanks art dealer Josef Lebovic and photographer Sally McInerney, Olive Cotton’s daughter, for their ongoing support of the Award and also the Friends of the Gallery committee for their contributions, both financial and practical, to the Award and public program events. We also thank the many volunteers who assist with the huge task of receiving and despatching artworks and many other facets of the Prize organisation.

Parke_Trent_CAndid portrait of a woman on a street corner 2013

Trent Parke

Candid portrait of a woman on a street corner 2013
pigment print
Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2013

Dean_Tamara_Damien_Skiper_Olive Cotton Winner 2011

Tamara Dean
Damien Skipper 2011
pure pigment print on rag paper
Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2011

A short biography of Olive Cotton

Olive Cotton
Adapted from information provided by Sally McInerney, May 2005.

Olive Cotton (1911-2003) discovered the art of photography in childhood and stayed committed to it all her life. Her mother was a talented painter who died young; her father, a geologist, had learnt the elements of photography for his journey to the Antarctic in 1907 and later taught it to his children.

Having graduated with an Arts degree, Olive Cotton worked successfully as a photographer at the Dupain studios in Sydney until the end of World War II, then moved with her new husband Ross McInerney, to the bush near Koorawatha, NSW. For 20 years she had no access to darkroom facilities, but kept taking photographs.

In 1964 Cotton opened a small studio in Cowra and took local portraits, weddings and commissions. After a 40 year absence from the city art scene she re-emerged in 1985 with her first solo show at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, she then concentrated on rediscovering and printing her life's work. A major exhibition of Cotton's works was shown at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2000.

Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture 2015

2015 Olive Cotton Award Exhibition Catalogue (3.86mB PDF)

2015 Olive Cotton Award Winner Awards and Acquisitions (640kB PDF)
Last Updated: 01 May 2017