Artist, Gerwyn Davies’ portrait Replica, which included use of AI in its creation, has won the $20,000 overall prize for the 2023 Olive Cotton Award.

Gerwyn Davies (b.1985) Replica 2023 archival pigment print. Acquired as the Winner of the 2023 Olive Cotton Award. Courtesy the artist. Gerwyn Davies is represented by Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane; Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney/ Berlin.

The announcement was made in an official opening and presentation ceremony at Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah on 15 July. Davies’ Replica was selected as the winning portrait from a field of 72 finalists, including emerging and established photographers from around Australia. Davies is the 12th artist to win the Award, which was first presented in 2005.

Dr Mudie Cunningham noted “hiding is not something we associate with portraiture. A conventional portrait requires a subject’s presence and disclosure to connect with the world. Gerwyn Davies is keenly aware that revelation is central to portraiture and photography, and in Replica he engages with queer visibility politics to interrogate what it means to be seen and unseen, to appear and disappear. Camouflaged within an inventive tableau made from costuming, props, and partially harnessing new AI technologies, he creates a clever and joyous image that speaks to art history and narratives of place and time, with conceptual and aesthetic rigour”.

Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc., Ferne Millen’s No Labels Required, a portrait of Dr Todd Fernando, was acquired for the Gallery’s collection, with Director Susi Muddiman OAM awarding it the 2023 Director’s Choice. A full list of finalists is available on the Gallery’s website. 

Visitors to the Olive Cotton Award exhibition can cast their own vote in the People’s Choice Award. The finalist with the most votes will receive $500. The exhibition will run until Sunday 24 September 2021. The Gallery is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Entry to view the exhibition is free.