2023 Pre-selection Panellists | Main Awards

We are thrilled to present this year’s Pre-selection Panellists. This dynamic group of professionals will select the 40 Finalists for the 2023 Lester Prize to be exhibited at The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) from 22 September – 26 November 2022.


Ron Bradfield is a saltwater man from Bard Country in Broome who grew up in Geraldton. He now calls Whadjuk Boodjar (Perth) his home. As the CYO (Chief Yarning Officer) of Yarns R Us; Ron facilitates cultural conversations across all levels of our communities, helping Australians explore their own personal stories and connection to place.

Ron is also a storyteller and artist, having worked in and around the arts across regional and metropolitan WA for 15 years, often supporting the development of artists to strengthen their creative practices.


Annika Kristensen is an experienced curator with a particular interest in commissioning new work by contemporary artists; the civic role of galleries and museums; art in the public realm; and broadening audiences for contemporary art. Previously Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne, where she remains as an Associate Curator, Annika has worked with major international and Australian artists to commission new work and curate significant solo and group exhibitions. Recent exhibitions include: Frances Barrett: Meatus (2022); Who’s Afraid of Public Space? (with Max Delany and Miriam Kelly 2021-22); Haroon Mirza: The Construction of an Act (2019); The Theatre is Lying (with Max Delany, 2018-19); Eva Rothschild: Kosmos (with Max Delany, 2018); Unfinished Business: Perspectives on art and feminism (with Paola Balla, Max Delany, Julie Ewington, Vikki McInnes and Elvis Richardson, 2017–18); Greater Together (2017); Claire Lambe: Mother Holding Something Horrific (with Max Delany, 2017) and NEW16 (2016).

Previously the Exhibition and Project Coordinator for the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) and the inaugural Nick Waterlow OAM Curatorial Fellow for the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012), Annika has also held positions at Frieze Art Fair, Artangel, Film and Video Umbrella, London; and The West Australian newspaper, Perth. Annika was a participant in the 2013 Gertrude Contemporary and Art & Australia Emerging Writers Program and the recipient of an Asialink Arts Residency to Tokyo in 2014. She holds a MSc in Art History, Theory and Display from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Arts/Communications from the University of Western Australia.


Liz Looker is a multi award winning portrait photographer. Her photographs hang in private collections around the world. In 2016, Liz won Australia’s most prestigious photographic prize, the National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery and in 2019, their Art Handlers’ Award. 

Liz’s interest is in human connection – here between sitter and observer – understanding both the vulnerability and power in being seen and the sensitivity required to witness and capture that, irrespective of the tools.


Kevin Robertson was born in Norseman, Western Australia, in 1964. He studied painting at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (Curtin University), graduating with a BA in 1984. He was awarded a Master of Arts from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 1992 and a Doctorate from Curtin University in 2018 where works as a sessional academic. He has maintained a consistent practice as a painter and has exhibited extensively at the Art Collective WA and Galerie Dusseldorf, Perth, and participated in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally. In 2022 he was the subject of a survey retrospective at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, that included a monograph on his work.

His work is represented in national public and private collections including Artbank, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Parliament House Canberra, Wesfarmers, Bankwest, The University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Kerry Stokes Collection, Janet Holmes à Court Collection and Royal Perth Hospital.


Bahar Sayed is a writer, arts worker and community organizer based on Whadjuk land. Currently, she is the curatorial assistant at The Art Gallery of Western Australia and guest editor for unMagazine. Bahar’s background spans across theology, film, and visual arts, and has arrived to the arts through her creative and community practice. Her work has been featured in UnMagazine, Fremantle Arts Centre, Runway Magazine, Running Dog, West Space Gallery, Linden New Arts, amongst others.

2023 Judges | Main Awards


Alan Dodge has served in the art museum world for over 45 years. In 1972 Mr Dodge became a lecturer in the Education Department of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In 1975 he was appointed the first Senior Research Officer of the fledgling Australian National Gallery (now National Gallery of Australia), where he stayed for 21 years. During that time, he held a number of positions, culminating in the role of Senior Advisor, Special Exhibitions and Development. In late 1996 Mr Dodge was appointed Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, a position he held for eleven years until the end of 2007, when he retired.

Alan has served for 15 years on the board of the National Portrait Gallery, has been a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Advisory Board at Murdoch University as well as serving on a number of boards and committees involved in strategies for the cultural future of Perth and WA. He was also on the Opera and Classical Music Panel of the Helpmann Awards for six years.

Alan was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, by the French Government in 2004, an Honorary Fellow by Edith Cowan University in 2007, and was recognised with an honour in the Order of Australia (AM) in 2008 for service to the arts. In 2011 he was named Western Australia Citizen of the Year, Culture, Arts and Entertainment, and made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Murdoch University in 2012 and also an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Curtin University in 2018.



For the past decade, Gina Fairley has been the National Visual Arts Editor of ArtsHub Australia. Prior to that, she freelanced as a writer and curator specialising in the contemporary art of Southeast Asia for over a decade. She was Regional Contributing Editor of Asian Art News and World Sculpture News (2005-2012, Hong Kong), Editorial Desk for the Philippines at ArtAsiaPacific and was Co-editor of their from 2007-08 Almanac. She has written over 50 catalogue essays, and has curated exhibitions in America, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

Her writing career is backed by 14 years as an arts manager, working for Wollongong Art Gallery, Opera Australia, Haines Gallery San Francisco, and the Biennale of Sydney. Today she lives in the Southern Highlands (NSW), and balances her writing career with a studio practice, Small Impact Studio.


Emma Bitmead is Associate Curator of Historical Art at The Art Gallery of Western Australia. Prior to this position she led the digitisation of The State Art Collection at AGWA, and worked as a curator in Perth and the UK. Originally from Canberra, Emma implemented and managed the travelling exhibitions program at the National Portrait Gallery, where she worked across collections and exhibitions roles for a decade.

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.