Last week it was a pleasure to once again judge the works in the annual photographic portrait prize at Trinity Bay High School in Cairns.
This years exhibition totalled about sixty portraits from the students (and a handful of teachers). The overall standard of the entries appeared improved on last years crop. A significant achievement. It took a stroll several times around the exhibition walls before finally settling on this years First, Second, Third, a couple of ‘commendations’ and a staff prize.
The work that I finally settled on as best in show was a multi layered portrait by grade 12 Shantelle Birch entitled “Self Hate” (top – below). Not only is Shantelle’s work a complicated and quality portrait, but also comments on the role of portraiture in society itself. The strong title and intricate image evokes emotion, addresses a contemporary youth issue on personal image and self doubt … and the pressures to confirm to stereotypes that visually bombard youth everyday. For her very well deserved win she was thrilled to receive a Nikon D3400 DSLR courtesy of sponsor Garricks Camera House.
Fractionally behind in Second Place was “The Despondent Girl” (second from top – below) … a well structured beautifully textured and composed portrait by Irin Phomraksa (also grade 12). Her work was anchored on the stare of the one visible eye amongst the seeming chaos of the windswept image.
Third was a classic and well constructed portrait – “Look Like Art” (bottom – below) by grade 11’s Lit Thai. Highly Commended awards went to untitled works by Etevise Taua and Lachlan Best (Lachlan’s clever and disturbing!), whilst the exhibition crowd voted Graziella Romunga’s work as ‘People’s Choice’. Staff prize went to a stand out entry – “Goodbye” by Anna Koetz Trowse.
Trinity Bay High School Visual Arts department teachers, including Sean Tooley and Ian Whittaker, should take a bow. Once again it was great to see, comment on and judge the wonderful photographic work of their talented students.
Images © the artists – Shantelle Birch, Irin Phomraksa and Lit Thai (2017)