A Gerringong woman has taken home the world’s richest portraiture prize on Wednesday, The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.
Artist Megan Seres, who also works as a cleaner, was announced the winner of the $150,000 honour in Sydney for a painting of her 10-year-old daughter Scarlett Hill in colonial dress.
The Portrait judges commented: “When we know the reason for creating this painting we understand a fuller emotional account of the portrait’s subtle force. Seres’ daughter Scarlett had been studying Colonial Australia at school and was cast as the convict Mary Wade in a play.”
They also said the painting revealed the close relationship between mother and daughter.
“It really brought home how incredibly lucky we are,” Seres told Fairfax Media.
“You know, we have schools and there are laws against children working.”
Wade arrived in Sydney in 1790 and was sent to the penal settlement on Norfolk Island.
She went on to have 21 children and was granted freedom in 1812. She died at the age of 82 in Wollongong and had more than 300 living descendants at the time of her death in 1859.
The prize money will help Seres concentrate on a new body of work inspired by a BBC adaption of the 19th century novel The Woman in White, where she will travel to Belfast for three months of research.
“I manage a holiday property and I’m a cleaner,” she says.
“It’s not glamorous at all but what it does it gives me a bit of freedom so I can say, ‘Look, can I clean on Thursday rather than Monday’.”
Meantime Bulli High School student Lachy Starling won the photographic prize for students in years 9 to 10, scoring $3000 for himself and another $3000 for his school.
Starling’s image depicts a body-boarder “taking a free fall drop” south of Wollongong, which was shot earlier this year.
“I’m pretty stoked,” he said, while he intends to use the money for a new underwater camera housing to continue his passion of photography.
The judge’s comments said the image portrayed the “power and raw energy of nature” as well as noting the photographer’s “superb timing”.
Winning portraits are acquired by the Moran Arts Foundation and exhibited permanently as part of the Moran Arts Foundation Collection.
Nursing-home tycoons Doug and Greta Moran founded the prize in 1988.
The Moran Prizes exhibition is open at Juniper Hall in Paddington and will run Wednesday to Sunday until February 5 2017.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS:
Megan Seres won the DMNPP with a portrait of her daughter titled: ‘Scarlett as Colonial Girl’
Johannes Reinhart won the MCPP with his photograph titled ‘Mermaid Show’
The student winners are: Yr 11-12 Christine Drew for ‘Smoko Break’, Yr 9-10 Lachlan Starling for ‘Forces’ and Yr 7-8 Tess Poyner for ‘Ash with Stick’.