Entries open: Wednesday 29 May – 10 July 2019
Entry and information:

Support from the MGA Foundation and Sotheby’s Australia brings the prize pool for the 2019 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize to a total of $35,000 – an exciting prospect for Australian artists working with the medium of photography.

The Bowness Photography Prize has become an important survey of contemporary photographic practice and one of the most prestigious prizes in the country, providing Australian artists with the opportunity to exhibit at one of Australia’s leading public galleries. Since 2017 the prize has been acquisitive and the $30,000 cash prize awarded to the winner ensures that it continues to provide a significant boost to an artist’s career. The Sotheby’s Australia People’s Choice Award has been doubled this year from $2,500 to $5,000.

Anouska Phizacklea, MGA Director commented that: ‘The Bowness Photography Prize creates an annual snapshot of what is going on in photography in Australia today and contributes to MGA’s mission of championing and supporting contemporary photographic artists. With no entry restrictions on size, genre or format, the prize celebrates the diversity of photographic practice and gives artists at any stage in their career the opportunity to get their work seen, not only by the judges, but also by new audiences and collectors. It will be incredibly exciting to see what our artists have in store for us this year.’

Joining MGA Director, Anouska Phizacklea, on the judging panel is the Director of Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Chris Saines and acclaimed artist Dr Christian Thompson AO. Saines is a leading light in the arts and cultural sector with over 35 years of experience leading galleries in Australia and New Zealand as a director, curatorial and collection manager, educator and curator. Thompson has built a reputation as one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, whose multidisciplinary practice engages mediums such as photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound. Thompson is represented in the MGA Collection as well as other leading national and international collections.

Kallie Blauhorn, Chair of the MGA Foundation commented, ‘With such a high calibre of judges, this year’s prize is sure to attract some of Australia’s best photographic talent. While we do not envy the judges’ task of selecting finalists, we know that their diverse perspectives and shared passion for the craft, will make for a great group of contemporary photographs. The Foundation, along with MGA supporters and the arts community, will surely be treated to a wonderful exhibition later in the year.’

Meet the judges:

Anouska Phizacklea (BA (hons), MA, MCom, CPA, GAICD) is Director of Monash Gallery of Art (MGA). She has expertise across the visual, decorative and literary arts as well as finance management and organisational development, with Masters Degrees in both Fine Arts and Commerce. She has held senior management positions at leading Victorian public institutions, Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), and worked for many years in art research and valuations in galleries and auction houses in Melbourne and London.

Chris Saines is Director of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane, Australia. He has worked for over 35 years in leading galleries in Australia and New Zealand as a director, curatorial and collection manager, educator and curator. As Director of QAGOMA since 2013, he has overseen major exhibitions by top international artists Cai Guo-Qiang, David Lynch, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Gerhard Richter and Patricia Piccinini. He has driven record attendance for the gallery and steered the eighth and ninth editions of the flagship exhibition series, The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. His current focus is to reinvigorate the original Queensland Art Gallery building and drive the creation of a dedicated all ages learning centre for the gallery.

Previously, Saines was Director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand from 1996–2013. He is currently Chair of the Council of Australian Art Museum Directors, has judged major national art prizes, and sat on the selection panels for both Australia and New Zealand’s representation at the Venice Biennale.

Dr Christian Thompson AO is an Australian born contemporary artist whose work explores notions of identity, cultural hybridity and history. Formally trained as a sculptor, Thompson’s multidisciplinary practice engages mediums such as photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound. His work focuses on the exploration of identity, sexuality, gender, race and memory. In his live performances and conceptual portraits he inhabits a range of personas achieved through handcrafted costumes and carefully orchestrated poses and backdrops. In 2010 Thompson made history when he became the first Aboriginal Australian to be admitted into the University of Oxford in its 900-year history. He is currently a research affiliate at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. Thompson holds a Doctorate of Philosophy (Fine Art), Trinity College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom; Master of Theatre, Amsterdam School of Arts, Das Arts, The Netherlands; Masters of Fine Art (Sculpture), RMIT University and Honours (Sculpture), RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. His works are held in major international and national collections. In 2018 he was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the visual arts as a sculptor, photographer, video and performance artist, and as a role model for young Indigenous artists.

Sotheby’s Australia People’s Choice Award

Hoda AFSHAR Portrait of Behrouz Boochani, Manus Island 2018 from the series Remain courtesy of the artist
Hoda AFSHAR Portrait of Behrouz Boochani, Manus Island 2018
from the series Remain courtesy of the artist

In 2018 Sotheby’s Australia became the proud sponsor of the Sotheby’s Australia People’s Choice Award. Sotheby’s Australia is the premier auctioneer of art, decorative arts and jewels within Australia, and extols creativity and scholarship. The MGA Foundation is pleased to announce that the prize awarded to the recipient has increased to $5,000 which will provide significant encouragement and support to the selected artist. Sotheby’s Australia’s support of the Bowness Photography Prize is a reflection of the national and historic importance of this prize and the MGA Foundation is profoundly grateful to partner with Sotheby’s for their award.

History of the prize:

In 2005 the MGA Foundation was established with the aim of supporting MGA and its significant collection. At the time, Bill Bowness was Chair of the Board, and, under his leadership, the Board and the newly constituted Foundation soon recognised the importance of providing a platform for contemporary Australian photographers to showcase their work, which would simultaneously raise the profile of MGA and its unique commitment to photographic art. The following year the MGA Foundation launched the inaugural William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize to promote excellence in photography across all photographic media and stylistic genres by both established and emerging artists with work produced within the last year.

Important dates

Entries open | Wednesday 29 May – 10 July 2019

Finalists announced | Friday 9 August 2019

Exhibition dates | 5 October – 17 November 2019

Winner announcement | Thursday 10 October 2019

Past Bowness Photography Prize winners: Hoda Afshar (2018); Polixeni Papapetrou (2017); Valerie Sparks (2016); Joseph McGlennon (2015); Petrina Hicks (2014); Pat Brassington (2013); Jesss Marlow (2012); Jacky Redgate (2011); Lee Grant (2010); Paul Knight (2009); Nat Thomas & Concertina Inserra (2008);  Ray Cook (2007); Kathy Mackey (2006)