Artist Lori Pensini’s depiction of her cousins, Tyler and Georgia, has won the the Newcastle Art Gallery’s Kilgour Prize People’s Choice.
The work tells a broader story of race relations in early Australia and was painted following the artist’s recent discovery of indigenous lineage.
The social and political prejudices of the colonial era saw the artist’s ancestors conceal two sons’ marriages to local Noongar women, denying latter generations all knowledge of the unions that ultimately spawned Pensini’s contrasting subjects.
Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton hailed the public's decision.
“I'm not surprised that visitors have responded so favourably to this work,” Ms Morton said.
"It becomes apparent when viewing this intimate portrait that the artist has a strong connection to the subjects, and her deft skill in rendering their striped dresses further unifies the strong bond between the cousins."
One in 10 of voters in the People’s Choice award selected Pensini's painting.