The Portia Geach Memorial Award is Australia’s most prestigious art prize for portraiture by women artists.
The Award was established by the will of the late Florence Kate Geach in memory of her sister, Portia Geach. The non-acquisitive award of $30,000 is awarded by the Trustee for the entry which is of the highest artistic merit, ‘…for the best portrait painted from life of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, or the Sciences by any female resident who was born in Australia or was British born or has become a naturalised Australian and whose place of domicile is Australia.’
The Portia Geach Memorial Award 2020 is now open for entries, closing at midnight on 10th July 2020.
Application entries are accepted online only.
Finalists are eligible for the $1,000 People’s Choice Award given in memory of Harry & Winifred Macorison by Dr Heather Macorison & Hilary Macorison.
To enter the award artists need:
- A high-res image of their completed work (max 2MB)
- A copy of their CV in Microsoft Word or PDF format
- An artists statement about the work, 200 words or under
- A signed declaration by the sitter
- To have read the Portia Geach Memorial Award Terms and Conditions 2020
Please note that entrants are unable to save incomplete applications and retrieve them at a later date.
ABOUT PORTIA GEACH
The Portia Geach Memorial Award was established by the bequest of (Florence) Kate Geach to honour her sister, artist Portia Geach who died in October 1959. Born in Melbourne in 1873, Portia Geach studied design and painting at the National Gallery School, Melbourne from 1893 to 1896 winning a prize for her nude painting. In 1896 she won the first travelling scholarship awarded to an Australian to study at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where she remained for four years. She seemed destined for a sucessful artistic career.
Around 1900, she returned to Melbourne and began experimenting with her art. She eventually focused on figure studies, portraits and atmospheric landscapes. The family moved to Sydney around 1904 settling in Cremorne Point. She painted murals for buildings in New York in 1917, and in 1926 was exhibiting at the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She continued to travel widely, visiting New Guinea, Noumea, Tahiti and New Zealand and belonged to the Women’s Club, Sydney, and the Lyceum Club, Melbourne.
Disillusioned by the lack of support from the male dominated art world Portia directed her energies fighting for the rights of women in Australia and painting a banner for the suffrage movement in 1905. She founded and was president of the New South Wales Housewives’ Association. In 1928 she reorganised the association as the Housewives’ Progressive Association. For many years she was also president of the Federated Association of Australian Housewives. In the Sydney Morning Herald and over the radio she frequently expressed her views on such subjects as buying Empire goods, the use of preservatives in foodstuffs, the date-stamping of eggs, the marking of lamb and the high price of milk and bread. Armed with a strong personality, she campaigned against the closed front that she claimed had faced her when she had tried to exhibit her paintings.
Sometimes referred to as the female Archibald Prize, the Portia Geach Memorial Memorial Award is given annually “… for the best portraits painted from life of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters or the Sciences by any female artist resident in Australia during the twelve months preceding the closing date for entries”. The Portia Geach Memorial Award seems an appropriate legacy and ensures that, over fifty years after her death, women artists in Australia are encouraged and supported in their endeavours.
Portia Geach Memorial Award winners
2019 – Sally Robinson, Body in a box (self portrait)
2018 – Zoe Young – Drawing storyboards (Bruce Beresford)
2017 – Amanda Davies – Pat Brassington
2016 – Jenny Rodgerson, Bound by the big red coat
2015 – Natasha Bieniek, Sahara (self portrait)
2014 – Sophie Cape, Romper stomper
2013 – Helene Grove, Self portrait getting on
2012 – Sally Robinson, The artist’s mother
2011 – Kate Stevens, Indian dream
2010 – Prudence Flint, Scrambled egg
2009 – Christine Hiller, The Old Painter
2008 – Jude Rae, Self Portrait 2008 (The Year My Husband Left)
2007 – Maryanne Coutts, Melbourne
2006 – Lucy Culliton, Self with Friends
2005 – Jude Rae, Large Interior (Micky Allan)
2004 – Nerissa Lea, The Sheik & Me, Self Portrait with Imagined Portrait of Chad Morgan after Frida Kahlo
2003 – Wendy Sharpe, Self Portrait with Tea Cup and Burning Paintings
2002 – Vicki Varvaressos, Self Portrait with Painting
2001 – Mary Moore, At Home
2000 – Nancy Borlase, The Sisters: Marie and Vida Breckenridge
1999 – Kim Spooner, Social Currency (Eva Cox)
1998 – Anita Rezevska, Self Portrait – Woman from Riga
1997 – Maria Isabel, Cruz Maria
1996 – Su Baker, Self Portrait at Six Paces
1995 – Wendy Sharpe, Self Portrait with Students, After Adelaide Labille-Guiard
1994 – Jenny Sages, Ann Thomson
1993 – Aileen Rogers, Suzanne Mourot
1992 – Jenny Sages,Nancy Borlase and Laurie Short
1991 – Rosemary Valadon, Frances Joseph
1990 – Jenny Watson, Self Portrait
1989 – Jenny Sands, Alex Karpin
1988 – Margaret Ackland, Shay Docking
1987 – Christine Hiller, Self Portrait
1986 – Christine Hiller, Self Portrait
1985 – Gwen Eichler, Dianne Fogwell
1984 – Margaret Woodward, Madeleine Halliday
1983 – Margaret Woodward, Self Portrait
1982 – Brenda Humble, Virginia Hall
1981 – Susan Howard, Jenny Kee
1980 – Judy Pennefather, Venie Schulenberg
1979 – Ivy Shore, Kondelea (Della) Elliott
1978 – Dora Toovey, Senator Neville Bonner
1977 – Ena Joyce, George Lawrence
1976 – Jocelyn Maughan, George Bouckley
1975 – Mary Brady, Elizabeth Rooney
1974 – Lesley H Pockley, Hugh Paget
1973 – Sylvia Tiarks, Self Portrait
1972 – Elisabeth Cummings, Jean Appleton
1971 – Mary Brady, Larry Sitsky
1970 – Dora Toovey, Self Portrait in Landscape
1969 – Vaike Liibus, Guy Warren
1968 – Bettina McMahon, Self Portrait
1967 – Jo Caddy, Laurence Davis
1966 – Mary Brady, Grahame Edgar
1965 – Jean Appleton, Self Portrait