In 2024 the Portia Geach Memorial Award celebrates its 60th year. This exhibition examines the work of Portia Geach and showcases works from the annual Award which bears her name.
Born in Melbourne in 1873, Portia Geach studied design and painting at the National Gallery School, Melbourne from 1893 to 1896 winning a prize for her painting. In 1896 she won the first travelling scholarship awarded to an Australian to study at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where she remained for four years. She seemed destined for a successful artistic career.
Around 1900, she returned to Melbourne and began experimenting with her art. She eventually focused on figure studies, portraits and atmospheric landscapes. The family moved to Sydney around 1904 settling in Cremorne Point. She painted murals for buildings in New York in 1917, and in 1926 was exhibiting at the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She continued to travel widely and belonged to the Women’s Club, Sydney, and the Lyceum Club, Melbourne.
Disillusioned by the lack of support from the male dominated art world Portia directed her energies fighting for the rights of women in Australia.
Following her death, her surviving sister Kate made the bequest that carries her name for an art award for Australian women artists. Held each year, the Portia Geach Memorial Award is given to a portrait of the highest artistic merit.
Alongside Portia’s work, we will be presenting a selection of previous winners of the Award, to highlight how portraiture has developed since the establishment of the Award in 1965.
Image: PORTIA GEACH
Ferries at dusk, Lane Cove River c.1940s, oil on canvas. S.H. Ervin Gallery collection, Donated through the Australian G overnment’s Cultural Gifts Program by John F. Gilfillan 1994
Exhibition open 11am – 5pm, Tuesday – Sunday from Friday 30 August – Sunday 20 October 2024.
How to book your tickets
Exhibition is included in a valid S.H. Ervin Gallery entry ticket.
Pre-book your ticket via Eventbrite.
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