The Kingston Prize, Canada’s Portrait Competition, was founded by Kaaren and Julian Brown, who first settled in Kingston in 1962. The main inspiration for the project was the exciting and controversial Archibald Prize for portraits, held annually in Sydney, Australia.
Julian had grown up in Sydney and recalls seeing the Archibald exhibition as a teenager. In the late 1960s, Julian and Kaaren, who had grown up in Illinois, lived in Sydney for several years and were reminded of the huge public interest in the Archibald.
After several visits to Australia for family events in the 1990s, they became intrigued with the idea of a prize for contemporary portraits in Canada and began to explore the possibilities. They organized the first competition, held in 2005, and donated the prize money that year.
They named the event The Kingston Prize in honour of the city where they had raised their family. Since then they have continued to organize the competitions, which are held every two years.