Kerrie Lester

Kerrie Lester (31 May 1953 – 5 April 2016) was an Australian artist[1] who was a frequent finalist in the Archibald Prize for portraiture, although she never won the main prize.

Kerrie Lester
Born(1953-05-31)31 May 1953
Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia
Died5 April 2016(2016-04-05) (aged 62)
Sydney, Australia
EducationNational Art School
Alexander Mackie College
AwardsMosman Art Prize
2011 Out on a Limb

She was born to John Lester and Dolores Metcalfe at the Crown Street Women's Hospital in Surry Hills, Sydney in 1953,[2] and studied fine arts at the National Art School and the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education between 1971 and 1975. She held her first solo exhibition in 1976.[3]

Lester was a finalist in the Archibald Prize sixteen times, but never won. She did win the associated Packing Room Prize in 1998, for her Self-portrait as a bridesmaid—an allusion to the saying "Always a bridesmaid, never the bride" in relation to her missing out on the Archibald so regularly,[4] and she stopped entering the competition in 2012.[5] Nonetheless, the display of her work at the shortlist exhibitions increased her profile, and the National Portrait Gallery acquired or commissioned her portraits of Margaret Fink, Fred Hollows, James Morrison and Cathy Freeman. She was also a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Award nine times, and was a regular finalist and exhibitor in the Wynne Prize and Sir John Sulman Prize group exhibitions. In 2011, she won the Mosman Art Prize for her painting Out on a Limb.[3]

In 2014, she was diagnosed with leukemia, stopping treatment after two stem cell transplants failed to stop the progression of the disease. She died on 5 April 2016, aged 62.[5]


  1. ^ Who's Who in Australia, ConnectWeb, 2016.
  2. ^ "Family Notices". The Sydney Morning Herald (36, 020). New South Wales, Australia. 2 June 1953. p. 14. Retrieved 11 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ a b "Kerrie Lester (1953–2016)". National Gallery of Australia. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  4. ^ McDonald, John (5 April 2016). "Australian artist Kerrie Lester dies after two-year battle with cancer". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b Boland, Michaela (5 April 2016). "Artist Kerrie Lester dies after cancer battle". The Australian. Retrieved 11 April 2016.