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Lord Mayor’s Prize: Still Thriving by Dylan Mooney

Still Thriving

Dylan Mooney

2023 Lord Mayor's Prize

Proudly supported by
Brisbane City Council
About the artwork and sitter

This portrait is one in a series, and features the artist and his friend, Sam. It is a digital illustration, made with Yuwi ochre and ink, the ochre, ‘representing connection to Country and love for each other.’

The two stand proudly and defiantly, gazing out at the viewer. ‘For us, Brisbane will always be home.’

The title appears in the portrait itself, painted over the bridge of the sitter’s noses; ‘still thriving.’

Mooney’s work, both personal and political, addresses issues of identity, representation and relationships.

About the artist

Dylan Mooney is a proud Yuwi, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander man from Mackay, North Queensland. He works across various mediums including painting, printmaking, digital illustration and drawing.

Dylan’s work is influenced by history, culture and family, and is a direct response to community stories, current affairs and social media. Armed with a rich cultural upbringing, Mooney now translates the knowledge and stories passed down to him, through art.

He has had solo exhibitions, and is now represented in major insitutions. He works in digital partly because he is legally blind, telling the AFR, ‘Drawing and printmaking can be difficult on my eyes because I can’t focus that much and I get migraines. But with technology, I can zoom in as much as I want to really get that detail.’

Judge's Notes

This portrait by Dylan Mooney is a work which immediately captivates because of its scale and subject matter. It depicts two people who are embracing; are they friends, lovers, or brothers? Does it matter? It’s an embrace which speaks of love, closeness, and warmth.

Mooney’s Yuwi (Mackay) and Torres Strait Islander (Meriam Nation) background are central to this work. It has been made working with digital technology, illustration, drawing and then painting. The flesh colours and the colours of the wattle flowers used are the ochres of the Yuwi, region, materials that connect the artist and the subjects to country, to community and to culture.

The work speaks of personal experience and the power of love. There’s something special about the intensity of the gaze of these two men and their piercing eyes, as they look back at the viewer. Their embrace is very intimate. And while it fills you with warmth, it also speaks of a determination which is an affirmation of presence, identity, and self-representation. We are moved by that sense of human dignity and strength, and our right to be who we are, and to be seen.

Altogether, intellectually, conceptually, and visually it makes for a beautiful and very empowered work.

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

The two stand proudly and defiantly, gazing out at the viewer. ‘For us, Brisbane will always be home.'