‘Compassion during crises’: Secret Harbour student a finalist in art prize – Mandurah Mail

A Renaissance-inspired self-portrait painted by Year 11 student Joseph Cook has been chosen as a finalist in WA’s richest portrait prize.

Comet Bay College Year 11 student Joseph Cook’s Renaissance inspired self-portrait has been chosen as a finalist in The Lester Prize’s Youth competition. Photo: Supplied

The Comet Bay College student’s oil painting, titled Boy with Insect, is one of 30 youth artworks in the running for The Lester Prize Youth Competition.

It will be on display at Brookfield Place’s in Perth from November 2 to 27 as part of The Lester Prize Youth Awards Exhibition, with the winners announced on November 12.

Boy with Insect showcases Joseph’s political views about affluence and power in times of crisis.

He chose a Renaissance-style influence because it “complemented the message of the piece”.

“It is a commentary on the way people of status project compassion during environmental crises, but are often complacent when it comes to providing solutions,” Joseph said.

“It was quite relevant last year during the Australian bushfires and the aftermath of Greta Thunberg’s rise to fame.

Joseph Cook Self Portrait

“There were a lot of social influencers and powerful corporations that wanted to show publically that they cared, but often they were the ones directly perpetuating the problem.”

The Lester Prize, formally known as the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture, is WA’s premier fine art prize. It was renamed in 2019 in honour of the award’s leading patron, Richard Lester AM.

More than 200 aspiring artists from across Australia entered the contest.

Joseph, who comes from an artistic family, said he was thrilled his self-portrait impressed selectors.

“I entered just to give it a go, so to be a finalist was exciting and a bit unexpected,” he said.

Chair of The Lester Prize Board John Langoulant said the competition was in its fourteenth year and was a platform for young artists to showcase their talents.

“It’s a real testament to the teachers, students and their families who are fostering their creativity in this way – helping them share their stories with the wider community,” Mr Langoulant said.

A total prize pool of more than $6000 is up for grabs.