Touching portrait of everlasting love wins KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 People's Choice

30 Sep 2017

A tender and colourful portrait of 89 year old Ken and 90 year old Betty's brightly smiling eyes peering over cups of coffee has won the hearts of voters in this year's KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 People's Choice Award at Newcastle Art Gallery.

Artist Rebecca Murray met the pair when they came to visit her gallery café and ordered themselves a coffee, and before long a lasting friendship grew.

KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 People's Choice
Rebecca Murray
Some like it hot 2017 oil on canvas
Artist collection, image courtesy the artist

Announced by the Gallery on Saturday, Lake Macquarie artist Rebecca Murray's oil on canvas work of art Some like it hot won the prize with a confident margin of votes - standing out amongst the 36 finalists. Voter feedback noted that the touching story of the subjects and the artist's ability to capture the likeness of this striking pair were the painting's strongest features.
"It is obvious that the painter has a strong relationship with the subjects - and this is conveyed through the intimacy of this portrait," said Gallery Manager Lauretta Morton. "I'm not surprised that visitors have responded so favourably to this work. A local artist and a local subject - what a great outcome."

The 49-year-old artist will receive $5,000, generously funded by the bequest of artist Jack Noel Kilgour. The KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 exhibition will remain on display at the Gallery until 15 October.

In 1987 Jack Kilgour bequeathed funds for the creation of this major figurative and portrait art competition to be held in perpetuity at Newcastle Art Gallery. It was conceived to be national in scope and is one of the most lucrative art prizes in the country. Unlike many other prizes, the paintings are judged without attribution; bringing both established and emerging artists back to a level playing field of anonymity. Each year, in accordance with the bequest, the work judged most outstanding is awarded a prize of $50,000. Artist Cameron Stead received this year's prize for his painting Between you and me 2017. Stead is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School in Sydney, which he will complete this year. This was his first time entering a national art prize.

Artist Statement about the work
Betty and Ken carefully sashayed into my gallery-cafe and ordered coffee. As I delivered the small cup to Ken and the large to Betty - always the large one to Betty - I was soon to be informed that they were 89 and 90 years old. I instantly liked them, they were joyous and gentle with each other, and very ‘old Australia’. Before leaving Ken decided he needed to sing and proceeded to serenade his wife of 69 years with his rendition of ‘If You Were the Only Girl in the World.' I saw them to the door with tears in my eyes, which soon became an uncontrolled cry as I watched Ken cradle his sweetheart’s arm and help her to the car. He drove off. Ken and Betty now visit me and the gallery-cafe at least once a week, either on their own or amongst loving friends and family. Ken is always quick with a joke or anecdote, and can recite the whole of ‘The Man from Snowy River’. Betty, though quiet is often mischievous with her thoughts, and reveals these in abundance, especially around food! My admiration and respect for these two beautiful souls are a reflection of their admiration and respect for each other. They are an inspiration and though age has wearied them, their love for each other burns as brightly as it did when first they danced together at the Annual Industry Dance at Speers Point Hall in 1945.

Cameron Stead

KILGOUR PRIZE 2017 People's Choice
Rebecca Murray

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John Edwards
Anna Glynn
Lucas Grogan
Tanya Jaceglav
Tony Lloyd
Lauren May
Frankie Morgan
John Morris
Adam Oste
Lori Pensini
Tom Phillips
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John Skillington
Tony Slater
Robin Lennox Stewart
Mark Tweedie
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