Entertainment Arts Australian artist who works as cleaner wins $150k art prize

Australian artist who works as cleaner wins $150k art prize

Megan Seres
Portrait prize winner, Megan Seres, with her work Scarlett as Colonial Girl. Photo: ABC
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Australian artist Megan Seres’s painting of her daughter Scarlett depicted as a colonial girl has won the richest portraiture prize in the world – The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

She was announced as the winner of the $150,000 prize in Sydney on Wednesday morning.

Ms Seres, who works as a cleaner, said the prize money would have a significant impact on her family’s life.

Her daughter Scarlett Hill modelled 11-year-old convict Mary Wade in the painting – Scarlett as Colonial Girl – which examines the role of girls and women in colonial Australia.

Judge Doug Hall said the work was haunting.

“It is subtle, it’s withheld, it’s beautiful, it’s ambiguous, and we were overwhelmed by it,” he said.

Seres’s painting will be exhibited among other finalists at Juniper Hall in Sydney’s Paddington.

“I’m so overwhelmed,” she said.

“I think what the Moran Foundation does is it brings absolute joy to so many artists.

“For an artist like myself to be able to walk into a space where there are so many quiet works that ask you to really be still and ask you [to] look at the works is wonderful and I don’t think we see that very often anymore when we walk into galleries.”

Scarlett, 10, was excited by her mother’s win.

“I just feel shocked because I don’t really expect lots of people, because Sydney is a busy place, to just come and have a look at my picture,” she said.

“I feel quite happy about it.”

While Scarlett said posing for the painting was “quite boring”, there are perks to having a mother who is an artist.

“I think it’s quite good to have a mum as an artist because you can just go into the studio and have a look at her paintings and see what’s happening,” she said.

“I’m very proud of her.”

Among the subjects painted for the portraiture prize were footballer Adam Goodes, surfer Mick Fanning and writer Catherine Keenan.

Moran portrait prize finalist 'Be Brave' by Matt Adnate.
Moran portrait prize finalist ‘Be Brave’ by Matt Adnate. Photo: Supplied/ABC

The prize was founded by nursing-home tycoons Doug and Greta Moran in 1988.

Winning portraits are acquired by the Moran Arts Foundation, and are exhibited permanently as part of the Moran Arts Foundation Collection.


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