Kirrawee artist is finalist in Lester Prize

Inspired: A portrait drawing of Ben Debono by Kirrawee artist Stacey Evangelou is a finalist in this year's Lester Prize.
Inspired: A portrait drawing of Ben Debono by Kirrawee artist Stacey Evangelou is a finalist in this year's Lester Prize.

Kirrawee artist Stacey Evangelou has been announced as one of the 40 finalists in the Lester Prize, the third richest prize in Australia after the Archibald and the Doug Moran competitions.

Now in its 13th year, this prize was named Black Swan Prize for Portraiture, which was re-named this year in honour of the award's leading patron Richard Lester.

Evangelou's work is entitled The Coastal Cowboy, and is a portrait of Ben Debono. He sadly lost his wife to melanoma three months after they were married. He sold his home and quit his job and set out on a trip around Australia that would have been their honeymoon. His heartfelt journey around the country was in his wife's honour, spreading the message of sun safety. He is now an advocate for melanoma awareness and early detection and continues to keep his wife's memory alive.

The Sutherland Shire artist who was inspired by her subject said she was drawn to the desire of capturing his "larger than life persona" into a portrait drawing.

"He has such a charismatic quality and genuineness that reflects from his internal self," she said.

"Ben has seen and experienced more than most and his resilience and strong mindset contribute to a positivity that is highly admirable.

"His ability to emotionally navigate through life with empathy, humility and a sense of humour connects people as a collective. It's these qualities that depict the human condition, which I wanted to convey through art'.

The works will be on public display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in the Centenary Galleries from November 9 to December 9, with the winner announced on November 8.

Evangelou is one of nine finalists from NSW.

More than 400 artists from across Australia entered the competition with a portraits of an Australian, or Australians, that they respect or admire, or a self-portrait, with the hope of winning The Richard Lester Prize for portraiture $50,000 cash prize, plus two economy class return tickets to any Singapore Airlines destination.


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