A Boyup Brook-based artist is putting the town on the map after recently being in the running for two of Australia’s most prestigious and lucrative art prizes. Lori Pensini was this year named as a semifinalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, Australia’s richest art prize worth $150,000. Pensini was selected for her self-portrait, Woman With Flathead — a piece inspired by mental health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was then followed up with another nomination as a finalist in the 2021 Portia Geach Memorial Award, worth $30,000, with another self-portrait, titled My Language of Flowers. Despite not winning this year’s Portia Geach award or making it to the Doug Moran finals, Pensini said it still meant a lot to receive nominations for prizes of that calibre. “It’s humbling and I’m very honoured,” she said. “You can never take for granted that if you get in one year that you’ll get into the next. The standard has just gone through the roof, being national prizes, and also the last couple of years has seen record entries into prizes, especially through lockdown. “It’s a really great stage to be able to critique my work and understand the artistic merit of it so it’s a really good tool on my belt to say ‘OK, I’m on the right track’.” The Portia Geach award, which was established in 1961 by Florence Kate Geach in memory of her sister Portia, celebrates an Australian female artist for the best portrait painted of someone the artist admires in the arts or sciences. Pensini said she typically avoided self-portraits but decided to push through the challenge this year. “I did a self-portrait this year, not that I admire myself, but I find self-portraits really, really difficult and I normally like to tell stories of myself through my family, rather than actually put myself out there on the canvas,” she said. “But this year I was actually brave enough to step up to the plate and paint myself.” The winner of the 2021 Portia Geach Memorial Award was Marie Mansfield for her painting, titled Tilly.