2021 Info

On behalf of the MGA Foundation we are thrilled to announce that Melbourne artist, Lillian O'Neil, has won the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize.
Over the last 16 years, the Bowness Photography Prize has emerged as an important annual survey of contemporary photographic practice in Australia and one of the most prestigious prizes in the country. The prize was established by the MGA Foundation in 2005 with the aim of supporting MGA and its significant collection, as well as its unique commitment to photographic art.
The winning work is a large-format collage of found photographic images, enlarged, cropped and reconceptualised to create an enigmatic composition entitled ‘Drawing to a close’ (2020). The work is tactile in its materiality, with collaged elements stitched together so as to prompt multiple interpretations and draw connections between subject matter and sensation. O’Neil’s practice is founded in archival processes by amassing material that she scans, cuts and wields adeptly into compositions that bind history to the present moment.
After lengthy deliberation, the judging panel commends the work of three additional finalists: Colour Factory Honourable Mentions have been awarded to Lauren Bamford for her intimate and odd diptych titled ‘Easter egg hunt and Dot's apple (2021), to Shea Kirk for his compelling and raw double portrait ‘Dina Scintilla (left and right view)’ (2021) and to Ali Tahayori for his altered family archive photograph that speaks to an undisclosed trauma in ‘Sisterhood’ (2021).
The MGA Foundation and Smith & Singer are delighted to announce that Ali Tahayori has been awarded the 2021 Smith & Singer People’s Choice Award for his work ‘Sisterhood’ (2021). The work is a photograph from Tahayori's family archive that has been transformed into a kaleidoscopic interpretation that speaks to an undisclosed trauma creating a dynamic composition and complex interweaving of layered imagery. The work claimed 35% of the vote, the most ever received, making it a clear favourite.

Congratulations to the following finalists:
Leith Alexander, Svetlana Bailey, Kate Ballis, Lauren Bamford, Gabrielle Bates, Tom Blachford, Paul Blackmore, Christophe Canato, Danica Chappell, Benjamin Cole, Nici Cumpston, Tamara Dean, Marian Drew, Jo Duck, Liss Fenwick, Silvi Glattauer, Richard Glover, Rebecca Griffiths, Joanne Handley, Jesse Harvey, Ponch Hawkes, Joseph Häxan, Petrina Hicks, Edi Ivancic, Angelique Joy, Tony Kearney, Ingvar Kenne, Shea Kirk, Honey Long and Prue Stent, Paula Mahoney, Harry McAlpine, Joseph McGlennon, Rod McNicol, Danie Mellor, Hayley Millar Baker, Mark Mohell, Lillian O'Neil, Meredith O'Shea, Ashley Perry, Patrick Pound, Ruiqi Qiu, Tonina Ryan, Amber Schmidt, Jessica Schwientek, Christopher Sheils, Melissa Spiccia, Ali Tahayori, Christian Thompson, Angela Tiatia, James Tylor, Justine Varga, Amy Woodward

Exhibition dates
Thursday 9 September (delayed due to current restrictions) – Sunday 5 December 2021

Award announcement
Thursday 11 November 2021

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  • 2021 Finalists
  • 2021 Virtual tour
  • 2021 Judging panel
  • 2021 Street posters
  • 2021 Specifications and FAQs
  • 2021 Education resources
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  • History of the prize
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