I am jumping on a plane to fly up the coast to my old hood! Taking my little Jude for a trip.

We will be attending the prestigious Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture this Saturday night! 📸✨ Out over 600 submissions, I am fortunate enough to be one of the 72 finalists chosen to have my work displayed at the renowned Tweed Regional Gallery from Friday, 14th July 2023.

Let me share a little about my captivating subject: Wendy Sharpe AM. Back in 1998, Wendy was by far the most colourful and interesting painting and life drawing teacher at the National Art School. Wendy taught me the cathartic power of documenting emotions and visually exploring with paint, collage and drawing. With her guidance, I began exploring the enchanting world of self-portraits, infused with elements of magic and mysterious characters, some real, some imagined. 

On 12th June 2023, Wendy Sharpe was awarded the Order of Australia for significant service to visual arts, and to the community. Every day I walk past her Women’s Empowerment Mural on the way to my son’s school, right in the heart of Newtown. Wendy’s art is all around us.

Fast forward almost 25 years, and I found myself photographing Wendy in her magnificent studio, brimming with her widely exhibited paintings and an eclectic collection of curated objects. The Olive Cotton finalist portrait is of Wendy at her sink, surrounded by momentos, found objects and a dusty mirror, complete with a dead spider we shall name Graham. I will show the portrait after the official opening – can’t wait to share! Here are a few others from the series.

Becoming a finalist in an award with  my portrait of contemporary artist Wendy Sharpe creates a beautiful synergy. This prestigious prize honours the life’s work of devoted photographer Olive Cotton. Despite lacking access to a darkroom, Olive Cotton persevered and captured stunning images for over two decades. As her career progressed, she focused on printing and rediscovering her artistic journey at the Australian Centre for Photography (ACP), culminating in a retrospective exhibition at AGNSW in 2000. During my art school days, I had the privilege of volunteering at ACP in exchange for darkroom access. Just like Olive and Wendy, I discovered my passion for art and photography at a young age and it remains a lifelong pursuit for me. Being selected as a finalist holds great significance for me. I want my son to see me doing what I love and celebrating art & life!

Artist Wendy Sharpe sitting on a couch by a window in her studio
Wendy Sharpe artist surrounded by her paintings