What is The Lester Prize?

  • It is not one point-of-view, one tone nor one hue.
  • The Lester Prize exhibits all our traits—the heroic, the despicable, the humble, the deplorable, the principled and the fallen.  When you look upon these portraits of others, you can’t help but see yourself reflected.
  • The Lester Prize captures what it means to be ‘them’, to be ‘me’ and to be ‘us’.
  • With this ancient continent behind it, The Lester Prize looks out while welcoming the world in.
  • It is for portraiture that comes from an unexpected place, but can speak to all.
  • It is for the elevation of the artist but against vacuous celebrity.
  • It is for quality irrespective of style.
  • It is for insight over fashion.
  • It builds reputations, not just venerates those who already have one.
  • This is what makes The Lester Prize the fresh face of portraiture.

Our Pre-Selection and Judging process.

  • The Pre-Selection Panel members and Judges for both the Adult Awards and Youth Awards change every year. They are a group of independent experts in their respective fields with no commercial association with The Lester Prize.
  • During the Pre-Selection process, the panel is never provided the name or location of the artist (just the artwork image, title, dimensions and medium on screen).
  • Unfortunately, due to the large volume of submissions, we are unable to provide individual feedback to entrants.
  • This is the same process that many art prizes both in Australia and overseas undertake, and one that the Prize has followed since its inception.
  • Our Pre-Selection and Judging processes are fully transparent and something we are very proud of as we work hard to ensure there is no bias, personal, political or financial influence in the selection of our Finalists and Winners.
  • We are unable to enter into any correspondence about the selection of the Finalists and Winners.
  • We stand by and support all our Finalists, and respect the decisions made by our independent Pre-Selection Panellists and Judges.

Western Australia's prestigious portrait prize has a fresh face (and name).

In April 2019, the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture, one of the country’s richest prizes for portraiture was renamed The Lester Prize in honour of the award’s leading patron, Richard Lester AM.

The move came about after extensive consultation with artists, arts administrators, sponsors and partners to develop a name that was more ‘ownable’ and recognisable than ‘Black Swan’—a moniker that is shared by many businesses, products and organisations in WA.

The new name recognises the leadership and support of Richard (Dick) Lester in helping the prize grow into one of the most prestigious on Australia’s visual arts calendar.

Along with the new name has come a new look for the Prize. The look reflects both the quality of the awards and its approachability.

John Langoulant, former Chairman of The Lester Board comments, “Portraiture is the most accessible form of visual art. No matter the style in which it is rendered, the human likeness is something we can all relate to. It’s the one form of art we have all created at some point in our lives – there is something elemental in human nature that drives us to draw or paint the likenesses of people. We don’t have to be experts to enjoy portraiture and we are proud to provide Western Australia with the opportunity to engage with the best of the artform each year in a format that puts the artists and community front-and-centre.”

Founder, Patron and former Executive Director, Tina Wilson, agrees. She says, “The Black Swan Prize was created by a community of passionate people, fuelled by a shared vision to support artists and to engage the community to embrace visual arts. I am thrilled that the Prize has a new identity. It recognizes the past but, more importantly, looks towards an amazing future. To quote Dr. Seuss: ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’—I am excited to watch its evolution.”

Background of The Lester Prize.

The Lester Prize is managed by The Lester Inc, a not-for-profit organisation. It was formerly ARTrinsic Inc which was founded in 2007 by Tina Wilson to provide an avenue for artists to exhibit works of portraiture within Western Australia. After successfully taking the Main Awards and Exhibition to its new home at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 2016, Tina stepped down to return to her own artistic practice.

Tina Wilson was made Patron of the Prize in 2018 in recognition of her passionate and tireless work to ensure there was a prize of ever-increasing excellence and prestige.

Dick Lester was made Lifetime Patron of the Prize in 2018, in recognition of his passion for the Arts, his encouragement of Tina Wilson during her tenure as Executive Director, and his advice and financial assistance that, from modest beginnings, enables the Prize to flourish.

In the community.

The Lester Prize’s annual program includes exhibitions at the Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip, outdoor exhibitions, big screen displays, guided tours, floor talks, live demonstrations, workshops and outdoor pop up events (many of which are free to the public).

We work with Starlight Livewire at Perth Children’s Hospital, aged care residents, and schools working towards making positive changes within their communities, including NESB (Non-English Speaking Background) and Indigenous groups.