11 facts about Virginia Grayson

By Gwylym Owen

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Virginia Grayson (born 1967), also known as Ginny Grayson, is a New Zealand-born Australian artist, and winner of the Dobell Prize for Drawing.

Grayson was born in 1967 in Palmerston North, New Zealand. She trained in film and media studies at Victoria University of Wellington. In the early 1990s she moved to New York for a period, before heartwarming to Sydney, and far ahead to Melbourne. She trained at the RMIT School of Art, and held an exhibition in the School’s gallery in 2009.

In 2008, Grayson was operational in a studio in Melbourne. In September that year, it was announced that she had won that year’s Dobell Prize for Drawing, displayed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in a competition that had 586 entries. The competition was judged by a former Queensland Art Gallery curator, Anne Kirker.

Grayson’s work, in pencil, charcoal and watercolour, was titled No conclusions drawn – self portrait. It portrays the player standing in her studio. Grayson observed that the enactment reflected her “state of uncertainty” about her artistic output at that time, during which she regularly destroyed her drawings in “fits of frustration”. The Sydney Morning Herald arts writer Louise Schwartzkoff described the portrait as “sombre”, where the subject “stares grimly into the distance”. When asked what she would get with the AUS$20,000 allowance from the Dobell Prize, she responded that she “wouldn’t mind getting my ute fixed”.

Robert Nelson, writing for The Age, considered Grayson’s drawing to be influenced by Alberto Giacometti, and “is eager and inquiring, as if always searching for the place, ratios and weight of her motif”.

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