Artist Cameron Stead wins Newcastle Art Gallery's $50,000 Kilgour Prize 2017

04 Aug 2017

Sydney-based artist Cameron Stead is the recipient of the KILGOUR PRIZE 2017, Newcastle Art Gallery’s prestigious annual award for figurative and portrait painting. The highly competitive award, and one of Australia's most lucrative, includes a $50,000 cash prize for the winning artist funded by the bequest of artist Jack Noel Kilgour.

Stead received the 2017 prize for his painting Between you and me 2017 at the launch of the KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 exhibition, which is showing at the Gallery from Saturday 5 August to Sunday 15 October 2017.

"The Kilgour Prize encourages Australian artists to pursue - and to push the boundaries of - portraiture and figurative painting," said Newcastle Art Gallery Manager Lauretta Morton. "It is always exciting to see how each year's entrants have interpreted that broad category. Congratulations to Cameron Stead, whose painting was chosen from an incredibly diverse pool of entries."

Kilgour Prize 2017 recipient Cameron Stead with his winning painting 'Between you and me' 2017.

The three-judge panel included two independent judges - Tony Oates, Curator Exhibitions, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University and Charles Robb, practising artist, Associate Lecturer in Art and Design, Queensland University of Technology - and Lauretta Morton..

Judging started from a pool of over 370 works of art, which were shortlisted to 30 finalists. The judges noted a striking range of subject matter, size and medium within the category of 'portrait and figurative painting' and also that this year's selected works were varied in scale and composition, with entries from all across Australia.

"Each year we face a difficult decision in determining the winner," said Morton. "The judges had robust discussion and deliberation, but ultimately the decision was unanimous. We receive such a diverse set of entries for this prize, and every year both the quantity and quality of these paintings continues to increase, which makes it challenging but it is a great problem to have."

Morton said the judges were particularly impressed by the intensity of Stead's painting as well as the skilful marriage of subject matter and materials.

"Both the technicality and the materiality of the painting reflected a deft hand and it is edgy in its subject matter and application of paint," she said. 'The conceptual element is also strong, in particular the parallels between the image of the bag and the use of latex as a material and backing. Ultimately the material is part of the whole experience of the image and makes this a unique work of art."

"The selection of this work also opens the prize up into the future - a brave painting that is challenging, temporary in nature and honest."

The judges also noted two of this year's entries for honourable mention, John Edwards' entry Young Mary-Ann Bugg on the Run 2017 and Lucas Grogan's The Wrestlers 2016.

Stead is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School in Sydney, which he will complete this year. This is his first time entering a national art prize.

"I'm incredibly grateful to Newcastle Art Gallery for this opportunity and honestly just to be considered as a finalist," he said. "An artist’s success is heavily reliant on the art community so this recognition is a sign that I’m headed in the right direction. The prize will undoubtedly afford me a chance to focus on painting and further strengthen my practice."

"I have been attending the Kilgour Prize exhibition for the last few years," he added. "I’m always delighted by the calibre and variety of the entries and many of my favourite works from previous years have broken away from convention and been experimental in approach. Given that this painting is experimental in ways, I thought the Kilgour Prize would be a good fit to enter my portrait."

Stead said he works with a variety of mediums, primarily drawing (ink, watercolour, graphite and charcoal) and painting, but he also likes to dabble in sculpture and ceramics.

People's Choice Award

In addition to the overall prize, the KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 competition also includes a People’s Choice Award of $5,000 chosen by visitors to the Gallery and readers of the Newcastle Herald.

Visit the Gallery or view the finalists' entries online to choose your favourite entry!

People's Choice Award voting will be open at the Gallery and online at until Wednesday 27 September 2017 and the winner will be announced Saturday 30 September 2017.

The KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 exhibition is on at Newcastle Art Gallery from 5 August to 15 October 2017. Entry is free and photography is permitted.

Cameron Stead
born 1988 Orange NSW
Lives and works in Sydney

2015-17, Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting), National Art School, Sydney
2009-11, Bachelor of Communication, University of Newcastle

Selected Group Exhibitions

KILGOUR PRIZE 2017, Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales
Gridlock, Rayner Hoff Studio, National Art School
Nobody Passes, Library Stairwell Gallery, National Art School

Another Landscape Exhibition, Rayner Hoff Studio, National Art School


Sally Anderson
Michael Bell
Ann Maree Clark
Jerome Dobinson
John Earle
Yvonne East
John Edwards
Anna Glynn
Lucas Grogan
Tanya Jaceglav
Tony Lloyd
Lauren May
Frankie Morgan
John Morris
Rebecca Murray
Adam Oste
Lori Pensini
Tom Phillips
Liam Power
Jordan Richardson
Paul Ryan
Nigel Sense
John Skillington
Tony Slater
Cameron Stead
Robin Lennox Stewart
Mark Tweedie
John R Walker
Chee Yong
Caroline Zilinsky