Artsday / ‘About Face’ talks about portraits

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A collage of National Photographic Portrait Prize finalists

Arts editor HELEN MUSA shares another day in the arts in Canberra.

THE National Portrait Gallery has a new section on its website, “About Face: portrait treats and treatises”, for articles on portraiture. The first article, “The eye and the heart”, is by National Photographic Portrait Prize judge and curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of SA, Nici Cumpston, where she immerses herself in the vision of the 2020 prize and exhibition. Visit

APPLICATIONS for the 2020 ANCA Gallery Digital Program are now open for artists who would like to share their work digitally. Although the gallery doors will be closed, the intention is to continue to collaborate with exhibitors, curators, writers, artists of all types of creative forms as well as ANCA studio tenants, to see how ANCA can best support varied and creative exhibitions, performative and digital outcomes over the coming months.

John Passant reading his poetry at The National Folk Festival, 2018

CANBERRA poetry lovers were saddened to hear of the death on April 5 of John Passant. A former tax lecturer and Assistant Commissioner of Taxation in charge of international tax reform in the ATO, a journalist for “The Independent Australian” based in the Canberra press gallery, he was the author of two collections, “Whose Broken is this” (2019) and “Songs for the Band Unformed” (2016), both from Ginninderra Press.

“THE Big Issue” has launched a digital version of its magazine to help support vendors in need amidst the COVID-19 crisis.  Half of the funds raised from each digital edition sale will go into a newly established hardship fund, which will provide immediate relief to at-risk vendors and long-term support to help vendors get back on their feet. Digital copies of the magazine, including back issues and special editions, are available for purchase here:

last year’s winner of The Lester Prize, Liam Noonan from NSW, with his portrait of artist Jonny Hawkins, and life patron and of the prize, Dick Lester.

SUBMISSIONS are now open for both adult and youth categories for WA’s premier portrait prize — The Lester Prize (formerly the Black Swan prize) now in its 14th year and available to professional, emerging and young artists and with a prize pool worth more than $75,000. Canberra artists have been front runners in past years.  Entries open April 11 and close on July 10, all details at

THE Q Exhibition Space is closed until the end of July. Exhibitions from April-July that had to be cancelled will most probably be shifted to next year and they’re still planning to go ahead with the QPRC Art Awards in the second half of the year, pending the ongoing developments around COVID 19. Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council promises to keep us posted.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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