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Lord Mayor’s Prize: No Land In Sight by Beth Mitchell

No Land In Sight​

Beth Mitchell​

2021 Lord Mayor's Prize​

Proudly supported by
Brisbane City Council
About the artwork and sitter

“Frustration is present as I step into freezing waters on yet another miserable, winter day, locked-down in Melbourne. Unable to travel back to Brisbane, the ever evolving knowledge of a growing divide among people politically, socially and environmentally bears down on my mind, increasing the need to create something meaningful and purposeful. Yet without creative freedom or a solid future, it seems the hope of restoration is up in the air so I focus on weathering the storm of my mind.

Untouched and uninterested in beauty, I realise that seeing myself objectively as a muse at such a mentally turbulent time for so many, produces beyond a portrait, perhaps a capturing of distilled grit and courage against the beauty & cruelty of a blank horizon.”

About the artist

Beth Mitchell is an award winning underwater fine art photographer whose work navigates and explores the depths of femininity through reimagined stories of modern womanhood and inspiring women suspended in an ethereal world under the surface.

Water is the medium and the life force captured alongside the artist in this self-portrait.

Judge's Notes

Beth Mitchell’s photograph encapsulates drama, confidence, and beauty, making it a stunning and captivating self-portrait. First  impressions are important and as I viewed the numerous entries for the 2021 Brisbane Portrait Prize, I kept being drawn back to this
work. There is ‘no land in sight’ as its title suggests, reflects our Covid reality, the harshness of being locked down and the strange and anxious mental state that we currently find ourselves in. 

The blue translucent backdrop of a moody sky and sea contrasts perfectly against the heavy Kabuki style makeup upon the floating face. Together these simple elements reinforce a powerful nature that challenges our vulnerability. The chemistry of the water and the body is symbolic of our shared fragility and strength. 

Beth Mitchell’s conversation about nature and the human condition is engaging and this self-portrait wins the Lord Mayor’s Prize, a brooding self, a gothic beauty, ethereal qualities, almost not of this world, but somewhere else. 

Karen Quinlan
Director, National Portrait Gallery Australia
2021 Judge

“Water is the medium and the life force captured alongside the artist in this self-portrait.”