The Lester Prize 2021

The Lester Prize 2021

The Lester Prize is one of the country’s most recognised and prestigious fine art prizes – an award that places artists and community proudly front-and-centre.

The prize pool available to professional, emerging and young artists is now worth over $100,000, including the main prize of $50,000.

This year's forty finalists were chosen from more than 750 entries received from artists across Australia. 22 of the 40 finalists are emerging artists, seven former finalists including 2 previous winners have made it the final list. 12 finalists are from Western Australia.

This year’s Main Awards Panel comprised of Western Australian artist Tom Muller; AGWA Associate Curator, Projects Isobel Wise; Emilia Galatis; Helen Turner and Jim Cathcart.

The winners were announced on 15 October at the Main Awards Night at AGWA. The Richard Lester Prize for Portraiture 2021 winner was Sidney Tapia for his portrait of Siaosi Feiloakitau titled Through You.

Other Lester Prize winners announced at the Awards Night included: Minderoo Foundation Spirit Prize: Emily Song Dumplings; Ashurst Emerging Artist: Illyampi Victor Burton Mamu; Oxlades Highly Commended: Narelle Zeller Brave new worker and Oxlades Highly Commended: Sally Ryan Never again.

This year's prize pool consists of:

The Richard Lester Prize for Portraiture (selected by a panel of judges) | $50,000 Cash
Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize (selected by artists’ peers) | $15,000 Cash
• Minderoo Foundation Spirit Prize (selected by Minderoo Foundation) | $10,000 cash
People’s Choice Prize kindly donated by the Baldock Family (selected by the general public) | $10,000 Cash
Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize (selected by our judges) | $5,000 cash
Barton Family Foundation Installers’ Prize (chosen by AGWA's installation team) | $5000
Oxlades Highly Commended x 2 (selected by a panel of judges) | $2,000 cash, $550 domestic art transport, $500 art framing voucher plus $250 art supplies voucher each

The finalists’ artworks will be on display in AGWA's Centenary Galleries from 16 October to 29 November 2021.

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Related Information




This work 'Through you' was the standout portrait. The use of scale and tight composition was supported by the pristine surface, focus of the artist and the subject’s character shines through. The rendering of the subject is incredibly sensitive and reveals the compassion of the artist towards the subject.

Alan Dodge, Clothilde Bullen and Helen Carroll
2021 Judges

The Richard Lester Prize for Portraiture Winner | $50,000

Sidney Tapia

Artist statement
As a multi-disciplinary artist, I'm captivated by creation. I consider it a high privilege to collaborate with the subject of my works. I hope to compliment their beauty, imparting a wonderful reflection and appreciation to the viewer.

About the subject
Siaosi Feiloakitau, known as Sia, is a very gentle, easy going and humble man I met on Pitt Street in the Sydney CBD while he was asking passers-by for spare change. He lives a very simple life, worked a warehouse job and enjoyed playing rugby league when he was younger. Originally from Tonga, he now resides in Sydney.

Sidney Tapia Through you 2020
Sidney Tapia Through you 2020.
Oil on wooden board, 22 x 22 cm.


Main Awards Virtual Exhibition—2021 Finalists

Main Awards Virtual Exhibition—2021 Finalists

About the Prize

The Lester Prize is managed by The Lester Inc, a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2007 to provide an avenue for artists to exhibit works of portraiture within Western Australia. With an annual prize pool worth over $100,000, it is now one of the nation’s most recognised and prestigious art prizes.

The Lester Prize pool includes $50,000 cash, $15,000 Tony Fini Foundation Artist Prize (selected by artists’ peers), the $10,000 People’s Choice Prize kindly donated by the Baldock Family (selected by the general public), the $10,000 Minderoo Foundation Spirit Prize (selected by the Minderoo Foundation), the $5,000 Ashhurst Emerging Artist prize (selected by our judges), $5,000 Barton Family Foundation Installers’ Prize (chosen by AGWA installers) and two Highly Commended Prizes which will be awarded $2,000 cash, a $550 domestic art transport voucher, $500 framing voucher and $250 art supplies voucher each.

Working with government, peak arts bodies and community groups, it plays a critical role in helping to diversify WA’s local economy, grow cultural tourism, and activate spaces through creative placemaking. The Lester Prize is proud to provide locals and visitors 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. The Lester Prize’s exhibitions and public events program is targeted at diverse groups in the community and includes artist floor talks, workshops, live art demonstrations and pop-up community activations across the city.

The Prize advocates for Australian art and artists through a full month-long exhibition season, which includes:

• Main Exhibition of finalists artworks at AGWA’s historic Centenary Galleries 16 Oct – 29 Nov 2021
• Big Screen Displays at various locations around Perth including Northbridge Piazza and Myer Forrest Chase runs Oct – Nov 2021
• Virtual Gallery, online events and creative resources
• Youth Exhibition of finalist artworks at Brookfield Place Tower 2 (123-125 St Georges Tce, Perth) runs from 18 Oct – 12 Nov 2021
• Outdoor Community Exhibitions at Perth Cultural Centre and Brookfield Place runs until 29 Nov 2021

AGWA is closed until 16 October for a final stage of redevelopment works. Details