Artists / Exhibitions / National Self-Portrait Prize 2017

People’s choice winner – NSPP 2017

Julie Fragar’s The Single Bed 2017 has been awarded the People’s Choice award for the National Self-Portrait Prize 2017.


Julie Fragar
The Single Bed 2017
oil on marine ply
Griffith University Art Collection. Purchased 2017.
Reproduced courtesy of the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Melbourne.

Forty is a good time to return to self-portraiture, if ever you were going to.
I was married at 24 and twice a mother by 26. The unbroken family provides a stable mental architecture within which to live with some confidence. The sure reciprocity of relationships in that space seemed, in my case, to be like four posts of a bed.

This year, I am 40 and not married. Being in the metaphoric, and sometimes actual, single bed is an echo chamber of demons past.

‘The Single Bed’ is a painting about being 40 and about reconciling with the facts of how things are (as opposed to the way we thought things might be). The single bed is a complex symbol for an adult – part infantilising, part sarcophagus.

My use of multiple images constitutes a kind of psychological realism. I paint an account of human ontology in which the mess of conflicting time, knowledge, hang-ups, and desires are brought together in the material, singular (flat) bed of a painting. – Julie Fragar

PS The symbolism of the single bed has never been more potent than in Philip Guston’s ‘Sleeping’ (1977) to which this work owes considerable debt.

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