2021 Warrnibald Prize Winners Announced!

The winners of the 2021 Warrnibald Prize Winners were announced Friday evening at WAG.

Guest judges, Charmaine Clarke, Liza McCosh and Madeleine Peters awarded the first prize of $2000 to Georgina Sambell for her image titled ‘Lex Paton’ which honours the accordion player and founder of Lex’s Shed – an Irish music group formed to raise money for charity.

The judges celebrated Georgina’s work as “skilfully executed,” “energetic,” and “well-balanced”.

In 1997 Lex decided to learn to play Irish music on his button accordion practicing in his kitchen with two friends every Thursday night. Within a year, sessions moved out to his garage forming ‘Lex’s Shed’. In its heyday around 20 musicians played at the sessions each week. During the 18 years that the shed was in action around 40-50 people had taken part in the informal sessions, with many performing together under the name ‘Lex’s Shed’ to raise money for charity.

Two music groups Cill-Airne and The Likely Celts were formed as a result of musicians meeting, playing and bonding over a scone and a cuppa in Lex’s shed.

“The narrative presented for the sitter aptly demonstrated a long association with community and the development of music.” said Liza McCosh.

Second prize of $500 was awarded to Jimmi Buscombe for his portrait of Connor Ovenden-Shaw. a prolific queer artist and writer exploring themes of gender, love and body image within their work. In 2018 Connor and partner Ben were the first gay couple to be legally married in South West Victoria.

Judge Liza McCosh commented: “I found this painting to be commanding and I particularly liked the way it spoke to or questioned the viewer through the direct gaze and finger pointing of the subject. By doing this the work extended on more traditional based portraiture and elevated the content by prompting a response from the viewer. The face in particular was skilfully painted.” She said.

Judge Madeleine Peters said: “This work struck me with its composition and striking impression made from across the room. A great subject with subtle movements of colour.” She said.

WAG Gallery Director Vanessa Gerrans congratulated this year’s 42 artists and their subjects, ‘the portraits in this exhibition are all extremely accomplished and a fantastic display of the strength of South West artists” she said.

“Warrnambool should be very proud. It is the people who do their jobs exceptionally well and the volunteers who go beyond the call of duty that makes Warrnambool such a vibrant city.”

The Warrnibald Prize is presented in partnership with WDEA Works and helps to raise funds for WDEA’s ArtLink program, which assists people of all abilities to achieve their potential.

Tom Scarborough Chief Executive Officer of WDEA Works said, “WDEA Works is delighted to partner with WAG to present this popular competition. As a part of our ArtLink program, we encourage people of all abilities to express themselves visually through art in a creative and supported environment. The Warrnibald is a great platform for artists to display their work and connect with the community.”

Included in this year’s show are a wide variety of local identities, from school teachers, local musicians, shop owners, activists, and support workers.

The 2021 People’s Choice Prize winners will be awarded First Prize $2000 and Second Prize $500 at a closing reception at WAG on Sunday 5 September, 2-3pm.

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