Record Numbers in Percivals

'Lily' by Tessa McOnie and 'Why Bother (self portrait)' by Liz Stute are two of the finalists in the 2018 Percival Portrait Painting Prize. The winner will be announced at the exhibition launch tonight.

The biennial Percival Portrait Painting Prize exhibition (the Percivals) will return to Perc Tucker Regional Gallery this weekend, in what is set to be the toughest judging since the exhibition’s inception.

Started in 2007 as North Queensland’s only portraiture exhibition, the Percivals’ reputation has quickly grown to attract national artists – with a record number of entries for this year’s exhibition.

Arts and Cultural Development Committee Chair Cr Colleen Doyle said to make it into the exhibition of finalists was an incredible feat in itself.

“If I was an artist in the Percivals now compared to when it was first launched, you’re now having your work viewed and hung next to nationally-recognised artists, so it’s really substantial. And when you look at the work, you have to check whether it is one of our local or national artists because the quality of everything is on par – and that is a really amazing thing,” Cr Doyle said.

“There’s over 100 finalists on exhibit [for the painting prize], and in excess of 300 when you include the photographic and pet portraits as well. It’s a substantial exhibition, and a substantial process to get to the point where your work is hung as part of the Percivals; so to become a finalist itself is a fantastic achievement for artists.”

Exhibiting artist Tony Fitzsimmons is a four-time finalist in the Percivals and said the calibre of both local and national artists entering was improving every year.

“I’m so pleased and privileged to be a finalist, I’m in very good company. It’s become more competitive; I know the number of entries has increased and a lot of it is the luck of the draw – there’s a lot of worthy artists who missed out,” Tony said.

“I definitely think how lucky I am to be hanging on the wall because there’s some wonderful works here – both from local and national artists, and we’re fortunate with the Percivals that they’ve had some great sponsorship in past years and it’s really grown in stature so it’s attracted very talented artists from interstate, and we’re seeing the fruition of that at the moment with over 100 works hung.”

Cr Doyle with Tony Fitzsimmons and his entry in the 2018 Percivals, ‘Lady with the Purple Fedora.’

Tony’s entry, a portrait of Cr Doyle, had been in the making for some time.

“I normally plan my pieces well in advance. I was speaking to Colleen at an exhibition I’d had last year, and she’s been an excellent supporter of the arts in Townsville so I thought she’d be an interesting subject for a portrait. I asked her, she agreed, and we went from there,” Tony said.

“I love it – I think Tony has managed to capture who I am and I’m very proud of the exhibition in general,” Cr Doyle said.

Catch the launch of the Percival Portrait Painting Prize exhibition at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery from 6:30pm tonight. The exhibition will showcase until 15 July

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