Queer Artists win 2017 MELT Festival Portrait Prize

melt festival portrait prize queer artists brisbane powerhouse
Photo: Brisbane Powerhouse

The two winners of the 2017 MELT Festival’s Portrait Prize have been announced.

On Friday afternoon, the top Judges Prize was awarded to Scottish-Australian artist Lesley Turnbull’s “Throw Like a Girl: The Tomboy Project” (pictured, left).


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a tomboy is “a girl who enjoys rough, noisy activities traditionally associated with boys, a girl who behaves like a spirited or boisterous boy.”

Turnbull said: “The Tomboy Project investigates the concept of the Tomboy and its under-representation, post-adolescence in contemporary art photography, film and popular western culture.

“Popular western culture represents largely stable notions of a determined gender identity that positions the tomboy identity as tolerable, but only during childhood.”

She explained her “Tomboy Project” widens the focus of the “tomboy” behind childhood and adolescence into adulthood and old age in a series of portraits.

The People’s Choice Award went to Brisbane artist Kenn Santos’ portrait, “Pretty Hurts”, which got the most likes – over 700 – on the Brisbane Powerhouse’s Facebook page.

Kenn said the portrait (pictured, right), featuring Brisbane drag queen Miss Poodle, looks behind the colourful facade of rainbow flags and glitter bombs to a sombre history of pain and anguish.

“It symbolises both the triumphs and the struggles that the LGBTI+ community has faced through the decades and how together, it creates a bittersweet representation of this ongoing battle for equality and freedom,” he explained.

“The life we lead as members of the LGBTI+ community is far from easy, with recent global events proving that bigotry and hatred are just looming around every corner. However, if anything, we are a family full of strength, optimism, and resilience.

“The happiness and bond we share, along with our straight allies, help us lift each other up and make all the hurtful things worth it.”

MELT Festival celebrates queer arts in Brisbane

The MELT Portrait Prize was created last year to celebrate the diversity of the LGBTI community.

More than a dozen artists’ works depicting their LGBTI heroes have been on display at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

The MELT Festival is the Powerhouse’s annual celebration of queer arts and culture, showcasing local, interstate and international actors, rock star singers, dancers, photographers, illustrators, comedians and circus artists.


The festival runs until Sunday at the Brisbane Powerhouse, with tickets available for this weekend’s events available from their website.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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