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Email Link   Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture

Key dates for the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture 2021

  • Entries open Wednesday 10 February 2021
  • Entries close Sunday 2 May 2021
  • Exhibition of selected works 16 July – 19 September 2021
  • Official Opening and Prize Announcements Saturday 17 July 2021

Full terms and conditions of entry will be available from Wednesday 10 February 2021.

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$20,000 Winner of the 2019 Olive Cotton Award

Funded by the family of Olive Cotton
Belinda Mason - Taken 2019

Belinda Mason b.1971
Lives and works Church Point NSW
Taken 2019
66 x 100cm

Director’s Choice Acquisition

Funded by the Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc.
Pertina Hicks Cleopatra 2019

Petrina Hicks b.1972
Lives and works Sydney NSW
Cleopatra 2019
pigment print
120 x 100cm
Courtesy of Michael Reid, Sydney and This is No Fantasy, Melbourne

2019 Judge's High Commendations

2019 Highly Commended - Brett Moffatt Cate Brett Moffatt b.1973
Lives and works Gold Coast QLD
Cate 2018
Archival pigment ink on Hahnemuhle cotton
65 x 62.5cm

2019 Highly Commended - Dave Carswell Dave Carswell b.1983
Lives and works Melbourne VIC
Alan Adler 2018
inkjet digital print
60 x 60cm

2019 Highly Commnended - Sam Scoufos Sam Scoufos b.1979
Lives and works Brisbane QLD
Portrait of an elderly man and daughter 2019
giclée print
80 x 65cm

2019 Highly Commended - Michael Corridore Michael Corridore b.1962
Lives and works Sydney NSW
Jassim 2017
pigment print
65 x 45cm

2019 People's Choice Award

2019 OCA People's Choice Award - Copyright Tweed Shire Council
Isaebella Doherty
Pearl, In Retrospect 2017
pigment print
59 x 42cm

2019 Olive Cotton Award Finalists
  • Hoda Afshar
  • Melissa Anderson
  • Riste Andrievski
  • George Angelovski
  • Simon Bernhardt
  • Isaac Brown
  • Chris Budgeon
  • Margaret Ellen Burns
  • Steve Bush
  • Brett Canet-Gibson
  • Dave Carswell
  • Peter Cheng
  • Francis Cloake
  • Michael Corridore
  • Judith Nangala Crispin
  • Gerwyn Davies
  • Agnieszka Davis
  • Isaebella Doherty
  • Ella Dreyfus
  • Stephen Dupont
  • Justin Ealand
  • Jacqueline Felstead
  • Steph Fuller
  • Douglas Gibson
  • Gary Grealy
  • Natalie Grono
  • Imogen Hall
  • Geoff Harvey
  • Petrina Hicks
  • Kalyanii Holden
  • Vanessa Howells
  • Shea Kirk
  • David Knight
  • Lisa Kurtz
  • Kellie Leczinksa
  • Jane Long
  • Robyn MacRae
  • Garrie Maguire
  • Paula Mahoney
  • Belinda Mason
  • Mia Mala McDonald
  • Andrew Merry
  • Mario Mirabile
  • Brett Moffatt
  • Fiona Morris
  • Cameron Neville
  • Tyrone Ormsby
  • Judith Parrott
  • Ilana Payes
  • Martine Perret
  • Viki Petherbridge
  • Clare Rae
  • Sissy Reyes
  • Renate Rienmueller
  • Allison Rose
  • Annette Ruzicka
  • Karl Schwerdtfeger
  • Robert Scott-Mitchell
  • Sam Scoufos
  • Krystal Seigerman
  • Russell Shakespeare
  • Damien Shen
  • Stephanie Simcox
  • Jeremy Simons
  • Chris Sinclair
  • Grant Smith
  • Lisa Sorgini
  • Marc Stapelberg
  • David Stefanoff
  • Tristan Still
  • Jacqui Stockdale
  • Darren Tan
  • Nathan Stolz
  • Cyrus Tang
  • Craig Tuffin
  • Greg Weight
  • Tamara Whyte
  • Yiorgos Zafiriou
  • Anne Zahalka

Olive Cotton Award

The Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture is a $20,000 biennial national award for excellence in photographic portraiture dedicated to the memory of photographer Olive Cotton. The winning work is acquired for the Gallery’s Collection. The exhibition is selected from entrants across Australia and is a significant opportunity for photographers living and working in Australia.

The award was launched in 2005, and is 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 award 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.

A short biography of Olive Cotton

Olive Cotton 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.

Adapted from information provided by Sally McInerney, May 2005.

Olive Cotton Award past winners

Justine Varga Maternal Line
Justine Varga
Maternal Line 2017
chromogenic hand printed photograph from 5 x 4 inch negative
Acquired as the Winner of the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2017
courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide

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

Trent Parke Candid portrait of a woman on a street corner

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

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