The Dean Cogle Portrait Prize was founded in 2015 and the inaugural exhibition was held the same year in The Dust Temple in Currumbin Waters. Ever since that first year, Rebecca Cunningham has entered the portrait prize and this year, she took home the major prize with her portrait of Joni Mitchell.
The Dean Cogle Portrait Prize, as then name implies, is the brainchild of the late Gold Coast artist and cultural figure, Dean Cogle. After his passing earlier this year, Gold Coast art community has felt the loss but at the same time, has embraced the legacy he left behind.
Samantha Morris wrote about him in Blank GC earlier this year.
“Dean has been described as a “stalwart” of the Gold Coast creative community… Dean Cogle made a phenomenal impression on the city’s cultural landscape, working as an artist here for some 40 years, moving to the Gold Coast in 1979 to take on airbrushing work at Hot Stuff Surfboards. Since that time, Dean had a hand in graphic design, art directing, illustration and print production. He’s painted silos and naked bodies alike, designed advertisements, hung exhibitions, founded art prizes and produced murals as well as marketing material.”
For Rebecca Cunningham, Dean Cogle was a friend, mentor, fellow artist and a source of inspiration. The two shared a work space in The Dust Temple and worked closely together. After the initial hesitation, participating in this year’s portrait prize seemed like a natural thing for Rebecca to do for herself as well for the friendship she shared with Dean and his family.
“I wasn’t going to enter but I did it for Dean and Sharon and I’m so glad I did…. I’ve admittedly never won an art prize in my life. I’m still in shock but so, so humbled and stoked, so many phenomenal artists are displaying in this show,” Rebecca wrote on her social media account.
Rebecca described her friend.
“For me Dean was a true artist. No matter what he did, he always practiced art. He taught me that no matter how hard [something] is, if that is what you want to do, you need to persevere. If you are passionate about something, you can make it work.”
Rebecca paints portraits of people she has a strong connection with, of people she knows.
“To paint someone’s face, I have to feel I really know them. I have painted Joni Mitchell and Frida Kahlo for example. They have given me so much. For me to sit and study their face, it gives me a new way of knowing them. I can capture a mood in someone’s face that another person can then feel. And the piece of Joni Mitchell is so very moody.
“I love [Joni Mitchell] and all she has inspired in me, the endless hours of listening to her music and her words that resonate so deeply with me. I’m so glad that all that I love that I put into my painting of her was felt by someone else enough to see and feel it too. That’s all we can ever ask for with our artwork, right?”
The Dean Cogle Portrait Prize will continue to bring artists together and contribute to the cultural scene of the Gold Coast.
“Every time there is one of these kinds of opportunities, it is a positive thing for artists and community alike. It is an opportunity to showcase your art, to come together with your peers and to take your art a step further again,” Rebecca said about the Portrait Prize and what it means to the Gold Coast art community.
“There are so many different ways of doing one thing. There are 40 different portraits in one room and it is interesting to see how everyone did it, approached the subject and brought their piece to life.”
The Dean Cogle Portrait Prize is proudly supported by Michelle Neumann with a $5000 first prize. The 2019 Prize was judged by Brian Adlington, the Director of Lismore Gallery.
The Dean Cogle Portrait Prize exhibition will run through to 4 September 2019 at Dust Temple, Currumbin.