Best of portraiture and ceramics gathered in one place

From gallery hopping to lagoon swimming, experience the best Townsville’s got to offer, including two major prize exhibitions.
Perc Tucker Regional Gallery. Photo: Andrew Rankin. The outside of a gallery vibrantly lit during daytime. There are tall trees covering parts of the building.

The Percivals, including the Percival Portrait Painting Prize, the Percival Photographic Portrait Prize and the Percival Animal Portrait Prize, will return this year to Perc Tucker Regional Gallery with an exhibition of 80 finalists from 22 June to 1 September.

Located in the heart of Townsville, Queensland, the Gallery’s flagship exhibition attracts a range of entries each year as visitors flock to attend the show and its grand opening street party.

This will also be the first Percivals for Holly Arden, Director of Townsville City Galleries, who joined in late 2023. Arden says she has noticed that entries to the prize this year offer ‘artists exploring various themes, one of which involves highlighting individuals who may not be widely famous, but hold significant importance within their communities. There’s a gentle and thoughtful approach to selecting subjects for portraits, emphasising their intrinsic worth.

‘The Animal Portrait section is also a cult favourite for the Percivals,’ Arden adds. ‘There are domestic animals, of course, but visitors will be delighted to find portraits of a kangaroo, an owl and a menagerie of other creatures.’

A strong engagement with ceramics

The 2024 Biennial North Queensland Ceramic Awards is now accepting entries from across the nation. This prestigious event, which has been running since 1973, is closely associated with the North Queensland Pottery Association. An exhibition featuring the Awards’ finalists will take place from 18 October to 2 February 2025. The Awards include a $10,000 City of Townsville Art Collection Award and a $1000 People’s Choice Award.

According to Arden, ‘We’ve firmly put Townsville on the map in terms of this remarkable collection of ceramics. The Award provides ceramic artists with an opportunity to contemplate what it means to exhibit in a contemporary art gallery, beyond the specifics of their own discipline.’

Arden encourages artists to push boundaries and emphasises that applying is straightforward – just visit the Awards’ website. ‘And remember, don’t wait until the last minute! Renowned artists have participated in the past, so entrants will be among the very best of Australian practitioners,’ Arden adds.

Applications for the North Queensland Ceramic Awards close 16 July; learn more.  

Experience what Townsville has on offer

Arden warmly invites visitors to explore the vibrant lifestyle of Townsville. She recommends a delightful trio of experiences: Pinnacles Gallery, Citylibraries Riverway and the serene Riverway Lagoons. This combination promises a leisurely blend of art appreciation, swimming and relaxation.

A mere 25-minute drive from Pinnacles Gallery leads you to the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, where captivating exhibitions like the Percivals and the North Queensland Ceramic Awards await. Arden proudly shares, ‘The Percivals attract a remarkable calibre of local artists to our premier regional gallery. Visitors will discover a thriving local arts scene that rivals any other.’

Arden’s passion lies in promoting local talent on a national stage. Rather than always importing external offerings, she champions the export of homegrown creativity.

Check out what’s on across galleries and theatre in Townsville.

Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. She took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs and was the project manager of ArtsHub’s diverse writers initiative, Amplify Collective. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram @lleizy_