THE walls of the Warrnambool Art Gallery are once again adorned with the colours of the stunning 2021 Warrnibald Prize entries.
There were 42 portraits entered in the prize this year, with the overall winner to be announced next week, August 27.
The Warrnibald is a non-acquisitive, open-entry portraiture exhibition and art prize.
All entries are eligible for first and second prizes selected by a panel of art experts as well as the Peoples' Choice Award - The Archibool Prize - first and second prizes selected by public vote.
Portrait subjects are those who are currently, or have previously, made significant contributions to culture, art, volunteering, business, sport, politics, education or health in south-west Victoria or have represented the region by contributing in these areas in Australia or overseas.
Artist Jenny Altmann was one of the instigators of the celebrated art prize five years ago.
It was established as a way of recognising both the skills of local artists and to provide a platform to recognise individuals who had made a significant contribution to the fabric of south-west Victorian communities.
"People are still finding people who have done a lot for Warrnambool and it's good to see the people of Warrnambool being celebrated through an artistic medium," she said.
"I think it's more about personalities than paintings."
Her entry is 'Universal Mother', a portrait of Amanda Lines.
"Amanda Lines has been a colleague of mine for over ten years," she said.
"She is devoted to all of her students in a motherly way, particularly those who feel marginalised, disenfranchised or have special needs. She is also a close friend - zany, fun and compassionate."
Ms Altmann has taught many artists across the region, helping shape the next generation of creatives.
"I don't feel that I have the right to teach unless I'm painting as well."
Liam Barling's entry 'Unseen' is a portrait of Josef Gardner created entirely with blue biro on paper.
As a kid he would create comics with blue pens that were lying around the house.
"It turns out I like the tones and textures you can get with it," he said. "It's a conventional everyday object which is kind of cool."
Barling met Gardner through the local music scene.
"Joe is a creator," he said. "He often works with the humble fragments of a loose idea, patiently shaping sonic textures into grand and emotive pieces of music.
"This process alone seems enough to momentarily satisfy any sense of creative satisfaction; the fact Joe is currently sitting on 20 albums worth of unreleased music speaks to this point.
"The simple set-ups of Joe's recording sessions are often in opposition to the complex and dynamic narratives which emerge.
"On the occasion that this music is publicly released, I am left with the impression that Joe is secretly trying to sink a precious object to the bottom of a deep lake, carefully letting it slip below the surface, before it disappears, unseen."
For artist Irene Crusca, painting Helen Bunyon was an easy choice.
Her piece 'Helen Bunyon - A Hidden Treasure' depicts Helen sitting behind her found objects, representing her role in the burgeoning arts scene of the district via her role as vice president for the F Project - a volunteer run arts organisation in Warrnambool
"Thanks to the F Project I've felt very encouraged and my paintings have improved a lot," she said.
"I'm very grateful for all the work Helen does behind the scenes.
"I wanted to represent her with her own artwork, but she's also symbolically holding up the arts community in some ways.
"I wanted to show her with her own works because she's always hanging up everyone else's paintings and artworks so this time she's there with her own work."
The Warrnibald Prize helps raise funds to support WDEA Work's ArtLink Program: an initiative that assists people with a range of abilities identify and achieve their creative goals, and promote the inclusivity of everyone in community life.
The Judges' Selection announcement of winners will take place Friday, August 27 at 6pm and the Archibool People's Choice announcement of winners will happen Sunday, September 5 at 2pm.
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