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Canberra Today 24°/27° | Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Julia looks to the sea for award-winning inspiration

Julia Ciccarone “The sea within,” oil on linen. Photo AGNSW’s Felicity Jenkins

JULIA Ciccarone has been awarded the 2021 ANZ People’s Choice award for her self-portrait “The sea within”. 

Painted at home during the 2020 Melbourne lockdown, the work is two-time Archibald Prize finalist’s response to what she calls “radical changes affecting culture and nature”.

Ciccarone painted herself lying barefoot, with wet hair and clutching paint brushes in her hand, wrapped in a blanket from her childhood, and resting her head on a suitcase her father brought to Australia from Italy when he migrated in the 1950s.

Speaking from lockdown, Ciccarone said: “When I painted this work, life was intense and overwhelming… I believe we share in a collective trauma.

“But the ocean – which features large in my life and art – is my healing place… Water is a universal symbol of the unconscious mind. Whenever I dive into the ocean, I am diving into my own subconscious, awake and aware.”

Ciccarone completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1988. In 1991, she lived and worked in Italy as the recipient of the Verdaccio Studio awarded by the Visual Arts and Crafts Board of the Australia Council.

She was a finalist in the 2013 Archibald Prize and 2014 Sulman Prize, and semi-finalist in the 2014 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said the portrait was the favourite among visitors to the Archibald Prize exhibition and the 360-degree immersive virtual visit in the 100th year of the prize.

“Julia Ciccarone is an accomplished painter whose highly detailed work immediately struck a chord with audiences. Her depiction of vulnerability in a time of uncertainty continues to resonate as we once again navigate life in lockdown and seek both solace and shared connections through art,” Brand said.

This year, the prize money for the ANZ People’s Choice increased from $3500 to $5000.

One person who voted for the People’s Choice — Cathryn Dearinger from Lismore, NSW — was also selected at random to win the People’s Choice voters’ prize of $2000 from ANZ.

“I have thought about Julia’s painting many times on my beach walks. She captures the beauty, power and endlessness of the ocean in her work perfectly,” Dearinger said.

The People’s Choice was first awarded in 1988 and this year 7,811 visitors to the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2021 exhibition and the virtual visit voted for their favourite portrait.

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes, the Young Archie competition and the Archibald Prize regional tour are all generously supported by presenting partner, ANZ.

Because of the extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown until September 30, the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2021 exhibition will not reopen in Sydney.

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2021 exhibition can be experienced via the 360-degree immersive virtual visit here






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Helen Musa

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