By Shaune Lakin
Shaune Lakin reflects on his decision to grant the $20,000 prize for photographic portraiture to a work made using Justine Varga’s grandmother’s saliva and scribbles
Recently I announced Justine Varga’s Maternal Line as the winner of this year’s Olive Cotton award for photographic portraiture.
Maternal Line is a beautiful photograph. Its purple and green palette has colours and smoky metallic effects I had never seen in a photograph before. Over this coloured ground is a series of marks (ranging from light blue to dirty brown, from thick to thin) that seem at once deliberate and nonsensical. These marks had been made with a range of pens and saliva by the artist’s elderly Hungarian grandmother, in an intimate photographic exchange magically rendered in a large print.