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Performing Arts and Music Award: Billie the Acrobat by Zoe Porter

Billie the Acrobat

Zoe Porter

2023 Performing Arts and Music Award

Proudly supported by
Lister Family Foundation
About the artwork and sitter

Billie is an ensemble member of CIRCA, performing mesmerising aerial and acrobatics all over the world.

She joined the Spaghetti Circus at a young age and then continued to study performing arts/circus at NICA in Melbourne after finishing high school.

This portrait of Billie incorporates some of her other talents, with detailed patterning depicting her in a hat made from large macaranga leaves as a nod to her own botanical watercolour drawings.

‘Within the watercolour I wanted to capture Billie’s grace and physical strength. We collaborated on a live drawing performance together and this artwork references part of that performance.’

About the artist

Zoe Porter is a Meanjin based interdisciplinary artist. Her primary practice is drawing, but she often incorporates other mediums into her work including painting, installation, performance, sculpture, site-specific works and video.

Zoe exhibits regularly nationally and internationally. Her work frequently depicts the animal-human hybrid, blurring the boundaries between animal and human, real and imaginary.

Judge's Notes

Executed in watercolour and relatively small in format, this portrait has a monumental quality. The artist has worked with a performer as her subject, and the painting is both a stage, and staged.
This work is the result of a live, performance drawing, involving the collaboration between the artist and the sitter, and it showcases the dynamism and the emotional tension between them.
The competent and complex graphic quality of the work shows mastery of the medium of watercolour. The composition draws you in, with different graphic vectors and the architecture of the work building the form like an abstract painting, with the superimposed planes and receding lines leading to the dense central complex, representing the limbs of the acrobat. Because it is in watercolour, the tactile effect is one of delicacy and almost evanescence, however the resultant work is formally invincible.

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

“We collaborated on a live drawing performance together and this artwork references part of that performance."