Olive Cotton Award

Gerwyn Davies - Replica

Gerwyn Davies (b.1985) Replica 2023 archival pigment print. Acquired as the Winner of the 2023 Olive Cotton Award. Courtesy the artist. Gerwyn Davies is represented by Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane; Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney/ Berlin. Courtesy the artist.

Ferne Millen - No labels required

Ferne Millen (b.1978) No Labels Required, 2023 C-type print. Acquired as the Director’s Choice of the 2023 Olive Cotton Award. Courtesy the artist.

The Olive Cotton Award is a $20,000 biennial national award for excellence in photographic portraiture in memory of photographer Olive Cotton.

The exhibition is selected from entrants across Australia and is a significant opportunity for established and emerging photographers. The winning work is acquired for the Gallery’s collection. The 2023 Award judge was Dr Daniel Mudie Cunningham.

The winner of the $20,000 acquisitive award is Gerwyn Davies for his portrait Replica. Ferne Millen has been awarded the Director's Choice Award for her portrait No Labels Required, a portrait of Dr Todd Fernando.

The winner of the 2023 OCA People’s Choice Award is Kate Atkinson for her portrait ‘Emily in the Shop’, a portrait is of Warninidlyakwa woman Emily Wurramara.  

Olive Cotton Award 2023 exhibition catalogue(PDF, 9MB)

  • Jaka Adamic
  • Ron Adams
  • Belinda Allen
  • Riste Andrievski
  • Kate Atkinson
  • Sarah Barker
  • Dane Beesley
  • Paul Blackmore
  • Fiona Bowring
  • M Ellen Burns
  • Isabella Capezio
  • Aaron Chapman
  • Kristopher Cook
  • Luther Cora
  • Katherine Cordwell
  • Teva Cosic
  • David Cossini
  • Tarlisha Currie, Naomi Felton & Donna Munjee
  • Gerwyn Davies
  • Stephen Dupont
  • Danielle Edwards
  • Sam Ferris
  • Andrea Francolini
  • Jenny Fraser
  • James Gardiner
  • Juno Gemes
  • Timothy Georgeson
  • Gary Grealy
  • Natalie Grono
  • Gabrielle Hall-lomax
  • Liz Ham
  • Nina Hanley
  • Simon Harsent
  • Joshua Hoe
  • Glenn Hunt
  • Jamie James
  • Mark Kimber
  • Shea Kirk
  • Shyarn (Scurvy) Koenitz
  • Joy Lai
  • Dave Laslett, Tina Flanagan, & Jennifer Eadie
  • Kellie Leczinska
  • Tracy Lees
  • Tess Lehman
  • Brent Lukey
  • Judith Martinez Estrada
  • Nikki McLennan
  • Ferne Millen
  • Sarah Mills
  • Magnolia Minton Sparke
  • Isabella Moore
  • Nikky Morgan-Smith
  • Michelle Newnan
  • Marcus O'Donnell
  • Susan Papazian
  • Sonia Payes
  • Viki Petherbridge
  • Emily Portmann
  • Vedika Rampal
  • Eugenia Raskopoulos
  • Cassandra Scott-Finn
  • Jacqui Stockdale & Eryca Green
  • Virginia Szaraz
  • Matthew Thorne
  • Lisa Tomasetti
  • Garry Trinh
  • Craig Tuffin
  • Chelle Wallace
  • Val Wens
  • Julie Williams
  • Meng-Yu Yan
  • Yiorgos Zafiriou

Subscribe to the Gallery mailing list to receive updates about exhibitions and prizes.

About the award Past awards

About the award

The Olive Cotton Award was launched in 2005, and is funded by Olive Cotton’s family and dedicated to her memory as one of Australia’s leading twentieth century photographers. The Award has grown and gained national recognition attracting entries from well-known and emerging photographers across Australia.

The award boasts a major acquisitive biennial prize of $20,000, selected by the Award judge. In addition, the Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc. fund $4000 for the acquisition of portraits from the exhibition entries to be chosen by the Gallery Director. Visitors to the exhibition may also vote for their 'people’s choice', which awards $500 to the most popular finalist.

The Gallery thanks art dealer Josef Lebovic and photographer Sally McInerney, Olive Cotton’s daughter, for their ongoing support of the Award and also the Friends of the Gallery committee for their contributions, both financial and practical, to the Award and public program events.

A short biography of Olive Cotton

Olive Cotton

Olive Cotton (1911-2003) discovered the art of photography in childhood and stayed committed to it all her life. Her mother was a talented painter who died young; her father, a geologist, had learnt the elements of photography for his journey to the Antarctic in 1907 and later taught it to his children.

Having graduated with an Arts degree, Olive Cotton worked successfully as a photographer at the Dupain studios in Sydney until the end of World War II, then moved with her new husband Ross McInerney, to the bush near Koorawatha, NSW. For 20 years she had no access to darkroom facilities, but kept taking photographs.

In 1964 Cotton opened a small studio in Cowra and took local portraits, weddings and commissions. After a 40 year absence from the city art scene she re-emerged in 1985 with her first solo show at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, she then concentrated on rediscovering and printing her life's work. A major exhibition of Cotton's works was shown at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2000.

Adapted from information provided by Sally McInerney, May 2005.

Past awards