When we interviewed Blak Douglas about his Lucky Country series being acquired by the National Gallery of Australia in 2017, we ended by asking, Where to from here? And he answered, “The sky’s as limited as a Michael Riley masterpiece”.
And that certainly seems to be the case. Just this year, Blak Douglas was announced as an Archibald Prize Finalist for his work, White shells, black heart. It was actually the third time for Douglas, in 2015 another of his portraits, Smoke and mirrors was recognised, as well as his 2018 entry Uncle Roy Kennedy. But this year, one of his paintings, with the late Elaine Russell, became a Wynne finalist too.
And tonight, the Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes is awarding Blak Douglas one of Australia’s most lucrative art prizes, the Kilgour Prize, for his portrait of Ursula Yovich, Queen of her own stage. “Now in its ninth year, the reputation of the Kilgour Prize continues to grow, attracting a large number of entrants and a significant audience to the Gallery,” she says.
“The breadth and depth of artistic talent on show this year is truly impressive, with the diversity and quality of the entries reaching new heights each year.
“I congratulate Blak Douglas on joining a prestigious list of accomplished artists to have taken out the Kilgour Prize.”
Blak Douglas’s work was chosen from hundreds of entries and 30 finalists by judges Lauretta Morton (Director of Newcastle Art Gallery), Jon Cattapan (Artist and Director of the Victorian College of the Arts), and Michael Dagostino (Director Campbelltown Arts Centre); Morton commenting that this year’s finalists were “…perhaps the strongest and most interesting entries we’ve had in the history of the Kilgour Prize”.
As for Blak Douglas, he says he’s always wanted to paint a portrait of his friend Yovich, a proud Larrakia woman who is currently performing her Helpmann Award-winning show, Barbara and the Camp Dogs at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney.
“This painting is all about her and is a metaphor for the female black voice,” he says.
Then in true Blak Douglas-style, adds, “I asked Ursula to stand upon a chair for the pose because I saw it as a metaphor for Aboriginal voices to be heard”.
You can see more of Blak Douglas’s work in our Gallery.
The Kilgour Prize Finalists for 2019: Peter Barker, Anthony Bartok, Michael Bell, Eva Beltran, Karen Black, Leeroy Chapman, Tamara Dean, Blak Douglas, David Fairbairn, Sebastian Galloway, Peter Gardiner, Ben Gavin, Craig Handley, Jacqueline Hennessy, Tom Keukenmeester, Richard Lewer, Michael Lindeman, Robert Malherbe, Marie Mansfield, SiÃ¢n McNabney, Joshua McPherson, Nigel Milsom, Lori Pensini, Stephen Pleban, Jordan Richardson, Melissa Ritchie, Jenny Rodgerson, Paul Ryan, Nick Santoro.
Artist: Blak Douglas
Gallery: Newcastle Regional Art Gallery ,