Race fire survivor inspires artist

Stephen Bevis Arts Editor

A striking monochromatic image of ultra-marathon burns survivor Turia Pitt is among the 40 finalists selected for the $50,000 Black Swan Prize for Portraiture.

The pencil, charcoal and pastel portrait by O’Connor artist Brad Durrant, titled Never, Never, Never Give Up, is among the many portraits of inspirational people contending for the prize to be announced in October.

“Turia had no hesitation in saying yes to having her portrait done, a clear sign of her strength and courage,” Durrant said.

Ms Pitt recently won a multi-million-dollar settlement against the organiser of the 2011 Kimberley race in which she almost burnt to death.

After 20 operations and 800 days in hospital, she has given motivational talks and trekked 95km along the Great Wall of China to raise money for Interplast, a non-for-profit group providing free reconstructive surgery in developing countries.

“Larger than life, Turia is someone to never shirk away from the spotlight, but intently grasp it,” Durrant said.

“She is even more inspirational up close as she is from a distance and I wanted my piece to bridge that gap for the audience, those unfortunate enough not to have met her in person.”

The Black Swan, WA’s answer to the Archibald Prize, attracted a record 350 entries from across Australia.

Award organiser Tina Wilson said many artworks depicted incredible stories of the indomitable human spirit, while others conveyed a sense of old-fashioned fun.

Portraits of celebrities Chris Hemsworth, Angry Anderson and Dave Hughes sit alongside those of an anonymous Special Air Service regiment soldier and polio survivor and 1956 Olympic canoeist Max Baldwin.

Also revealed today FRI are the 29 finalists in the $20,000 Black Swan Prize for Heritage, in artists are challenged to depict elements of the city’s urban landscape.

Finalists in both prizes will be on show at Lynton and Kay Galleries, Perth, from October 9-19. The winners will be announced on October 16 and 17 ahead of the Perth Heritage Day weekend.

A $7500 People’s Choice Prize will be online, enabling the public to vote for their favourite artwork at: www.blackswanprize.com.au

Burns victims Turia Pitt, right and Kate Sanderso return to the Kimberley for a Lake Argyle swim event, Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian