One of Australia’s richest photography prizes just got richer. The winner of the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize will now take home $30,000 in prize money – $5,000 more than previous years. For the first time in the history of the prize, Monash Gallery of Art will acquire the winning entry.

Above: 2016 winner, Valerie Sparks Prospero’s Island – North East 2016, from the series Prospero’s Island. Pigment ink-jet print, courtesy of the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY + dianne tanzer gallery (Melbourne)

Established by the MGA Foundation in 2006 to promote excellence in photography, the prize is open to any Australian photographer – established or emerging – and all genres of photography are eligible, as long as the work has been produced in the past year. There are no thematic restrictions. Each year a panel of three judges consider hundreds of entries and curates an exhibition of finalists before settling upon a single winner. This year’s panel consists of Australian architect, art patron and academic Corbett Lyon, artist Susan Fereday, and MGA senior curator Stephen Zagala.

While the cash prize is highly coveted, the exhibition of finalists also highlights some of the most interesting work being created by Australian photographers today. In this respect, the Bowness Photography Prize has become an important annual survey of contemporary photography in Australia. Previous winners include Valerie Sparks, Joseph McGlennon, Petrina Hicks and Pat Brassington.


Susan Fereday has held more than twenty solo exhibitions across Australia since 1988. She has been an active arts curator, writer and administrator, notably as director of the Centre for Contemporary Photography 1992–95 and Inaugural director of RMIT Gallery, Melbourne. She completed her PhD in Fine Art at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University in 2009.

Corbett Lyon is a founding partner of Lyons, an architectural design practice based in Melbourne. Corbett is one of Australia’s leading patrons, commentators and collectors of Australian contemporary art. He is a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria, a Member of the Heide Museum of Modern Art Foundation and a Member of the International Council of Museums. He lectures widely on contemporary art and on the architecture of art galleries and museums. Corbett is an Honorary Fellow of Monash University and a Professorial Fellow and Visiting Professor in Design at the University of Melbourne.

Stephen Zagala is Senior Curator at Monash Gallery of Art. He has been commentating on visual culture since the late 1980s, working as a teacher, reviewer, catalogue essayist, researcher and curator. With training in the disciplines of art history, philosophy and anthropology, his areas of expertise include 20th Century Australian art, the history of art theory, Pacific art and photography.


Bowness Photography Prize
Entries registrations open: May 31–July 12, 2017
Finalists announced: August 28, 2017
Exhibition dates: October 14 – November 26, 2017
Opening and announcement: October 19, 2017
Please click below for downloadable media release:


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