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Sylvia Jones Award for Women Artists: Before the crossroads (Vin age 11) by Fiona Lowry

Before the crossroads (Vin age 11)

Fiona Lowry

2023 Sylvia Jones Award for Women Artists

Proudly supported by
Clem Jones Foundation
About the artwork and sitter

The sitter is Fiona’s 11 year old son, Vincent, and was captured during a transitional period after their family’s recent move to Brisbane.

‘The heat, the smell, the sound and even the architecture all feel so viscerally different. We are in a state of flux.’

‘It reminds me of poem by Swedish poet and psychologist, Tomas Transtromer called the Blue House, where he reflects on the choices we make in life – It is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.’

She uses her trademark monochrome pallete and airbrush technique, imbuing the work with an ephemeral feeling of the complexities of transition, and future possibility.

About the artist

Archibald Prize winner Fiona Lowry is best known for her contemporary rendering of two traditional genres: landscape and portraiture.

She has been a regular exhibitor in the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes. Her work has been acquired by institutions across the country such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and Artbank.

Judge's Notes

This is a stunning painting of the artists son at age eleven, created at a time when she and her family had relocated to Brisbane. Lowry captures a sense of displacement, disorientation and change in the physical atmosphere, and at the same time, reflects a much more personal dialogue about the anticipation and uncertainty in her son’s internal life.
There’s a subminimal suspense in the work, like a veil you can’t fully and clearly see, which suggests a lack of clarity or a state of in betweenness, so you have a sense of what’s happening, but at the same time, there’s a kind of adolescent disquiet.

It’s an incredibly tender work, which has a kind of ethereal feeling that is both comforting and questioning, evident in the way she’s captured his eyes – a disquietude or a foretelling of things to come.

Suzanne Cotter
Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Chief Judge 2023

About Sylvia Jones

The $5,000 Sylvia Jones Prize for Women Artists is proudly supported by The Clem Jones Foundation

Sylvia Jones (1909-1999) performed many different roles and made a significant contribution to the City of Brisbane as Lady Mayoress during her husband Clem’s record term as Lord Mayor from 1961 to 1975.

Noted for modernising the city — especially its road, transport, water, sewerage, and community and sporting infrastructure — the administration led by Clem Jones also helped to develop and expand Brisbane’s cultural life with Sylvia as Lady Mayoress playing an active and leading role.

Clem and Sylvia Jones both took a personal interest in Brisbane’s cultural life and development.

“The heat, the smell, the sound and even the architecture all feel so viscerally different."