Moreton Bay artists enter Brisbane Portrait Prize

Published 5:00am 27 July 2023

Moreton Bay artists enter Brisbane Portrait Prize
Words by Jodie Powell

The Power of Connection (above) © So Brave

Artists from Samsonvale, Margate and Burpengary are in the running for the 2023 Brisbane Portrait Prize.

Brisbane Portrait Prize chair Anna Reynolds says the diversity of the entries so far highlights the creativity and skill of the city’s artists.

“This year, we have an eclectic bunch; we’re seeing self-portraits, portraits of family and loved ones, and the usual smattering of well-known sitters,” Anna says.

“There are some big names featured, but also portraits celebrating the contribution of unsung heroes in the community.”

Now in its fifth year, the Prize aims to showcase artists and the unique character of Brisbane City, and any artist with a connection to Brisbane is eligible to enter.

Since 2019, more than 2500 entries have been considered by the Prize judges, with artists coming from all walks of life.

“We have submitting artists who have been in the industry for over 30 years, while others are new and emerging,” Ms Reynolds says.

Among the entries received so far is a portrait of Marian Rigney, by Rod Bailey.

Marian, the recipient of the first Excellence in Nursing Award in Australia, was still working full-time in paediatric and neonatal care until a recent cancer diagnosis.

Other subjects include a digital work of local fashion designer Gail Sorronda, by Dane Beasley, and a painting of legendary Brisbane drummers Lindy Morrison (The Go-Betweens) and Jeffrey Wegener (The Saints, Laughing Clowns), by actor Zoe Carides.

Ms Reynolds says no matter which medium each artist chooses, the unique act of producing a portrait is what unites the entries.

“The sitter, whether it’s themselves or someone else, whether realistic or abstract, is a testament to them, and their contribution to our world,” she says.

“I just love seeing the imaginative, vibrant, moving, skilful, and sometimes humorous artworks as they come in, as well as the wild and wonderful characters the portraits choose to represent.”

Powerful message

Rachelle Panitz’s entry, The Power of Connection celebrates the journeys of six young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The founder of breast cancer charity So Brave, Rachelle was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 32 and collaborates with bodypaint artists, photographers, videographers and young women experiencing breast cancer to provide empowering and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

The Power of Connection is one of many images taken by the charity over the past eight years and represents the bravery and strength of young women who have been diagnosed with the disease.

In August 2022, following the difficulties of the past years in lockdowns and restricted movements, So Brave did something they had never attempted before.

They brought six young women - all diagnosed with breast cancer before they were 40 - seven bodypaint artists, two photographers, hair and makeup students from all over Australia to Darwin for an incredible week of connection and support.

“This day in particular was a testament to organisation and planning - bodypaint as an artform is ephemeral, made on the day that it is painted and washed off mere hours afterwards,” Panitz, from Samsonvale, says.

“We capture this fleeting beauty through video and photography so we may be able to show the incredible bravery it takes to do this even without a breast cancer diagnosis.

“All six featured women - Nicola Langford, Gabrielle Cooper, Claire Symons, Lisa Evans, Karina Akarana and Tracy Starr - were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s and 30s.”


Burpengary’s Pepquita Link is a Gooreng Gooreng, Gubbi Gubbi woman and has entered Neularowhy – Aboriginal, a self-portrait.

The work is a three-piece painting about her healing story and is connected to her spiritual and cultural peace.

Teaching others

Margate’s Hugo Toro has captured Karin Schaupp and her custom guitar for his entry into the Brisbane Portrait Prize.

“From my Latin cultural background, I am attracted to guitar music,” Hugo explains.
“Seeing Karin on an online concert with her students during the pandemic lockdown prompted me to paint her portrait.

“She is a master at classical guitar and recognised for her talent world wide.

“My painting is done using acrylic paint and a palette knife for maximum vivid effect.”

Toro begun as a self-taught artist learning from artist workshops and has recently qualified as an artist with a Diploma in Visual Arts.

He has recently been producing works that merge traditional and digital art and tutors new artist students and runs elderly art activities.

Swag of prizes

The award categories for the 2023 Brisbane Portrait Prize include the $50,000 Lord Mayor’s Prize, $10,000 Digital Award, $7500 People’s Choice Award, $5000 Packers’ Prize, $5000 Sylvia Jones Prize for Women Artists, $2000 Emerging Artists Award to be shared by two winners and the $2000 Next Gen Prize for entrants aged 18 and under.

Entries close on August 1. Find out more here.


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