2020 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize responds to COVID-19 and affirms its support of artists

Call for entries: 20 May – 8 July 2020

In 2020 MGA celebrates its 30th anniversary and the Bowness Photography Prize marks its 15th year. Over the last 15 years, the Bowness Photography Prize has emerged as an important annual survey of contemporary photographic practice in Australia and one of the most prestigious prizes in the country.

Art Opportunity previously on at MGA - Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne precinct, Victoria, Australia.
From Wednesday 20 May 2020 to Wednesday 08 July 2020

2020 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize responds to COVID-19 and affirms its support of artists image

Published by Monash Gallery of Art on Sunday 24 May 2020.
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The MGA Foundation is proud to announce the 2020 Bowness Photography Prize will proceed this year. In 2020 the prize will continue to grow and adapt as it responds to COVID-19 and the significant impact this is having on artists. The MGA Foundation recognises the importance of supporting practicing artists at such a challenging time, and the heightened impact the $30,000 Bowness Photography Prize and $5,000 Smith & Singer People’s Choice Award will have on the recipients.

In light of COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on the sector the MGA Foundation has made a number of alterations to the prize this year. This includes reducing the entry fee from $55 to $35, extending the entry open period and working with its partner organisations to provide discounted rates for the production of works for exhibition. The MGA Foundation is committed to ensuring a physical as well as a virtual exhibition and has postponed the exhibition to later in the year, with the announcement of the recipient of the prize moving to early 2021.

‘At this unprecedented moment in our history, the Bowness Photography Prize takes on new meaning. The MGA Foundation were unwavering in their commitment to the prize as a response to the impact COVID-19 is having on practicing artists, recognising the significant financial impact the awards would have on the recipients. The Bowness Photography Prize remains a celebration of photographic practice in Australia, and gives artists at any stage in their career the opportunity to get their work seen, not only by the judges, but also by audiences as they delve into the diversity of photographic practice. Perhaps the most important aspect of the prize this year is that it has the incredible ability to bring the photographic community together and rally around the significant role photography and our artists play in society – something important for us to celebrate at such a challenging time for the creative sector.’

— Anouska Phizacklea, MGA Gallery Director

The MGA Foundation is thrilled to announce that MGA Director Anouska Phizacklea will be joined on the judging panel by previous MGA Director and prize judge, Shaune Lakin, NGA Senior Curator of Photography and acclaimed artist Fiona Hall.

’As a milestone year for the Bowness Photography Prize, we are excited to welcome back former MGA Director Shaune Lakin who will judge alongside renowned artist Fiona Hall. Joining MGA Director Anouska Phizacklea on the judging panel, they will select the best contemporary Australian photography for our 15th anniversary exhibition.

The MGA Foundation have always believed in the artistic importance of the Bowness Photography Prize and this year, in the wake of our global health issues, it takes on new social meaning. We hope that this year’s prize will further validate the important role art plays in society by showcasing the best of humanity and consequently provide us all with more hope as we move forward.’

Important dates

Entries open Wednesday 20 May – 8 July 2020
Finalists announced Thursday 13 August 2020
Exhibition dates 31 October 2020 – 7 February 2021

If you have any questions regarding your entry please contact bowness@monash.vic.gov.au for assistance.

— Kallie Blauhorn, MGA Foundation Chair

Meet the judges

Fiona Hall is one of Australia’s most prominent contemporary artists. Hall is best known for extraordinary works that transform quotidian materials into vital organic forms with both historical and contemporary resonances. Hall works across a broad range of mediums including photography, painting, sculpture, moving image and installation, often employing forms of museological display. Hall’s sculptures are characterized by their intricate construction and thematic resonance with issues of environmentalism, globalization, war and conflict.

Shaune Lakin has been the National Gallery of Australia’s (NGA) Senior Curator of Photography since 2014. Previous positions include Gallery Director, Monash Gallery of Art (MGA), Senior Curator of Photography at the Australian War Memorial, where he wrote the first major history of Australian conflict photography, and Curator of International Art at NGA. He has been a lecturer in art history and theory at the University of Melbourne, where he completed his PhD in the history of photography. Lakin’s work is increasingly collaborative and has often focused on the histories of Australian feminist photography, including the MGA exhibitions Photography meets feminism: Australian women photographers 1970s‒80s (2014) and Sue Ford: time machine (2011). He has curated many projects with his colleague Anne O’Hehir, including The body electric (2020), California cool: art in Los Angeles 1960s‒1970s (2018) and Colour my world: hand-coloured photography in Australia (2015).

Anouska Phizacklea (BA (hons), MA, MCom, CPA, GAICD) is Director of Monash Gallery of Art (MGA). Phizacklea has expertise across the visual, decorative and literary arts as well finance 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. Since her appointment at MGA Phizacklea has curated group and single artist exhibitions with leading Australian practitioners including Allusion & Illusion: the fantastical world of Valerie Sparks (2018) and Robyn Stacey: as still as life (2018) with an exploration of still-life photographs drawn from MGA’s collection, placing the genre and Robyn Stacey’s work into context. More recently she worked closely with the Tucker Foundation to realise the exhibition The Tucker portraits (2020) that delved into Albert Tucker’s use of photography in his art making and Portrait of Monash: the ties that bind (2020) featuring major commissions from Lee Grant, Peta Clancy, Ponch Hawkes and David Rosetzky.

Smith & Singer People’s Choice Award

Smith & Singer, previously Sotheby’s Australia, became the proud sponsor of the People’s Choice Award in 2018. Smith & Singer is Australia’s premium auction house facilitating the purchase and sale of important Aboriginal, Asian, Australian, & European art and jewellery. This significant philanthropic 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.

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.

The Bowness Photography Prize is 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. A $30,000 acquisitive award with a $5,000 People’s Choice Award supported by Smith & Singer.