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La Prairie Art Award

A person stands in front of a large painting of people, trees and birds

La Prairie Art Award 2024 recipient Marikit Santiago at her home studio

The La Prairie Art Award is an annual award to support Australian women artists.

A partnership between the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Swiss luxury skincare house La Prairie, the La Prairie Art Award, which began in 2022, comprises the acquisition of artwork for the Art Gallery collection and an international artist residency. As part of the award, the recipient travels to Switzerland and attends the Art Basel international art fair as a guest of La Prairie.

The recipient of the La Prairie Art Award 2024 is Marikit Santiago, whose two works A Seat at the Table (Magulang) and A Seat at the Table (Kapatid) will enter the Art Gallery collection.

About the artist

Western Sydney-based Filipina–Australian artist Marikit Santiago is a three-time Archibald Prize finalist (2016, 2021, 2023) and winner of the 2020 Sir John Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery, for The Divine, a painting of her three children Maella, Santi Mateo and Sarita.

Santiago’s paintings probe the artist’s relationship between art and life, career and family, myth and reality. Using oil paint and gold leaf alongside humble materials such as cardboard boxes and markers, Santiago produces rich and detailed compositions, layered with cultural and religious symbolism. Her deeply personal and meticulous practice explores her lived Filipina-Australian experience through the canon of Western art history.

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About the artwork

Titled A Seat at the Table (Magulang) and A Seat at the Table (Kapatid), the two portraits that will be acquired by the Art Gallery portray two generations of Santiago’s family – her parents and her sister – with magulang translating to ‘parents’ and kapatid to ‘sibling’ in Tagalog.

A Seat at the Table (Magulang) depicts the artist’s nanay (mother) and tatay (father) at one end of a table laid with lechon (roast pig), banana leaf and a bird of paradise flower. A Seat at the Table (Kapatid) is an inverted portrait of Santiago seated next to her sister at a table laid with narcissus daisies and a python snake, a symbol of temptation and sin. The works also feature marks made by Santiago’s three children, who are credited as artistic collaborators in much of her work.

Two portraits each showing two people at tables that hold a variety of objects

Marikit Santiago A Seat at the Table (Magulang) 2022 (left) and A Seat at the Table (Kapatid) (right), collaborations with Maella Santiago, Santi Mateo Santiago and Sarita Santiago, Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2024 © Marikit Santiago, photos: Garry Trinh, courtesy the artist

Past recipients

  • A person wearing an academic mortarboard cap holds a young child

    2023 Thea Anamara Perkins

    The recipient of the La Prairie Art Award 2023 is Thea Anamara Perkins, whose four works The graduation, Bondi Beach, The Bungalow and Warren Ball Avenue will enter the Art Gallery collection.

    About the artist

    Thea Anamara Perkins (born 1992) is an Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist. Her paintings incorporate portraiture and landscape to depict First Nations peoples and Country. Through her work, she questions representation and how First Nations peoples can and should be portrayed in contemporary Australia.

    Raised and based in Sydney, Perkins has family ties to the Redfern community and Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Perkins continues her family’s commitment to what she calls ‘strong and ready communication’ and is part of an extraordinary dynasty of First Nations activists and creatives that includes Arrernte elder Hetty Perkins (her great-grandmother), activist Charles Perkins (her grandfather), curator Hetti Perkins (her mother) and film director Rachel Perkins (her aunt).

    Perkins routinely delves into her family’s photographic archive for source material, attracted by the hyper-saturated, almost cinematic glow of old photos and the melancholia that comes with seeing a moment in time you can no longer access.

    About the artwork 

    The Art Gallery will acquire four works by Perkins for the La Prairie Art Award. The group comprises intimate portraits that depict the artist’s family across three generations. We see her mother Hetti and her grandfather Charles at his 1966 graduation ceremony; a Bondi Beach scene of her grandfather, mother and uncle Adam; her grandfather and aunt Rachel at the Telegraph Station in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, a place of significance to the family; and her sister Madeleine surrounded by family as candles are lit on her birthday cake.

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    A person wearing an academic mortarboard cap holds a young child

    Thea Anamara Perkins The graduation 2023, Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2023 © Thea Anamara Perkins

    An adult and two children on a beach with two adults reclining in the background

    Thea Anamara Perkins Bondi Beach 2023, Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2023 © Thea Anamara Perkins

    Two people in white shirt stand with legs apart and their upper bodies and arms leaning forward

    Thea Anamara Perkins The Bungalow 2023, Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2023 © Thea Anamara Perkins

    Two children look at candles on a birthday cake with adult hands around them

    Thea Anamara Perkins Warren Ball Avenue 2023, Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2023 © Thea Anamara Perkins

  • Atong Atem 'A yellow dress, a bouquet 5' 2022. Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2022 © Atong Atem

    2022 Atong Atem

    The inaugural recipient of the La Prairie Art Award is Melbourne-based artist Atong Atem for her work A yellow dress, a bouquet 2022.

    About the artist

    Atong Atem (1991) is an Ethiopian-born, South Sudanese artist and writer based in Naarm/Melbourne who works mainly with photography. She often uses portraiture to explore migrant stories and postcolonial histories of the African diaspora.

    Atem explores concepts of home and identity through a critical and sentimental lens and references the works of photographers Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta and science fiction writers such as Octavia Butler as tools for navigating liminal spaces.

    Atem has exhibited her work across Australia, including National Gallery of Victoria, MUMA Monash, Gertrude Contemporary, Australian Center for Contemporary Art and Internationally at Red Hook Labs in New York, Vogue Fashion Fair in Milan and Unseen Amsterdam art fair.

    About the artwork 

    For the La Prairie Art Award 2022, Atem extends her ongoing preoccupation with self-portraiture and the history of mid-20th century African studio photography, including the work of Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta. These photographers pushed against the pictorial codes of ethnographic photography and gave agency to their subjects. 

    A yellow dress, a bouquet 2022 is a sequential self-portrait, Atem alludes to classical Western painting traditions through her postures and the symmetry of the group. Yet Atem also maintains what she refers to as a ‘decidedly African, postcolonial aesthetic style’ through her emphatic use of colour and texture.

    The hyper-stylised costumes and make-up draw attention to the staging of the studio scene, but such ornamentation also carries political weight. For Atem, the face-paint is a symbol of aesthetic alienation and a reaction against the idealisation of whiteness.

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    Atong Atem

    Atong Atem A yellow dress, a bouquet 2022, Art Gallery of New South Wales, La Prairie Art Award 2022 © Atong Atem

La Prairie Art Award is an invitational award only and is not an open competition, like the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes. Artists are unable to apply to enter. 

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