| by Sonia Kohlbacher |

A Western Australian artist known for her breathtaking portraits of women and stunning landscape portrayals has been shorted-listed for one of the most prestigious women’s art prizes in Australia. 

Lori Pensini’s delicate portrait of Lucinda Giblett was a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Art Prize, often referred to as the Archibald Prize for women.

Painted in her Boyup Brook farm studio, Pensini’s piece is an intimate portrait that simultaneously reflects on both women’s ties to the land that has mothered generations of their families, and womanhood. 

“I never used to think what I did was important, until I started putting it down on canvas,” she said. 

“I haven’t always been taken seriously as an artist, and have had to repeat that what I do is not a hobby or craft. 

“It’s especially challenging for female artists because we have to wear multiple hats through life.”

Pensini is one of only three Western Australian artists who have made the final round of this year’s Portia Geach Memorial Art Prize. 

Her work, ‘stellar violets’, is heavily steeped in the memory of her mother, and offers an insight into the intricate relationship she shares with Ms Giblett, founder of the Manjimup-based Stellar Violets social enterprise. 

“When I was painting, I thought about the women we could possibly make a difference to, but it went further than that, it went back to the women who made a difference to us, to our mothers,” Pensini said. 

“I spent most of the time painting and singing old songs that my mother used to sing to me.”

One of those songs was Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours. 

“In the song they were very poor, and the mother would sew patches onto her daughter’s cloak,” Pensini explained. 

“Other kids laughed at it, but the girl saw it as a coat of riches, as every stitch was sewn with the love of her mother.”

In her portrait, Pensini has captured Ms Giblett wearing a cloak of carefully stitched together rosellas, a nod to their rural roots and the strong countrywomen who came before them. 

 “The birds are stitched together with memories of being shaped by our mothers,” Ms Pensini added. 

“So it’s an intrinsic connection, and that came through a lot.”

The Portia Geach Memorial Art Prize was established to support female artists, and was shown at the S. H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney.

ABC article