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National Portrait Gallery announces NPPP and Darling Prize People's Choice awards
Wonder, 2019, by Klarissa Dempsey.

CANBERRA.- The votes have been counted, and the winners of the National Portrait Gallery’s People’s Choice Awards for the Prize exhibitions are:

The Darling Portrait Prize
David Darcy, for his portrait of his neighbour, 86-year-old farmer and environmentalist Wendy Bowman. Darcy wins a $10,000 cash prize thanks to the generous support of the Liangis family, founding benefactors of the National Portrait Gallery. John Liangis said he was delighted with the selection. “The people have chosen well. The portrait expresses a life of experience, vitality and resilience.”

Darcy, based in the Upper-Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, is a successful photographer and people’s favourite (he won the National Photographic Portrait Prize People’s Choice award in 2016) who only began painting two years ago. On winning, Darcy said he was overwhelmed. “There are so many amazing artists and works in the exhibition. Wendy is a strong woman with incredible character and painting her was an absolute joy. She has been an advocate for the environment for forty years and has done so much for the community,” Darcy said.

The Darling Portrait Prize is a new $70,000 national prize for Australian portrait painting honouring the legacy of Mr L Gordon Darling AC CMG (1921-2015), who was instrumental in establishing the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. The winning entry, announced in March, was Anthea da Silva for her portrait of the ‘high priestess’ of Australian contemporary dance, Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM. Darcy’s portrait was also awarded the Highly Commended prize by the Darling Prize judges.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize (NPPP)
Klarissa Dempsey for Wonder, a portrait of her daughter Tayla playing on Country homelands near Alice Springs. Klarissa wins Fine Art printing to the value of $2,200 thanks to SUNSTUDIOS.

The NPPP is the National Portrait Gallery’s long-running and popular annual prize for photography. Now in its 13th year, it is one of the highlights of the NPG’s exhibition calendar. The 2020 winner was Rob Palmer for his portrait of Sydney whole-fish chef Josh Niland, who took home a $30,000 cash prize and photographic equipment from Canon Australia.

NPG Director Karen Quinlan AM said; “While the gallery was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were thrilled to see so many people voting for the prizes online – more than 7,000 votes were cast.

“These Prize exhibitions are extremely important – a way artists can have their work shown in a national gallery, alongside their peers, and for audiences, a diverse and uniquely Australian insight into the art of portraiture. The subjects of the two People’s Choice Award winners affirm this - from the spirited charm of Klarissa Dempsey’s Tayla in Wonder, and the wise gaze captured by David Darcy of Wendy Bowman, who I suspect has seen much in her life,” Ms Quinlan said.

Now that the NPG has reopened in Canberra, the NPPP and Darling Portrait Prize exhibitions are on show until Sunday 26 July.

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