GOULBURN ART AWARD 2018
There is a lot more to judging visual arts awards than simply picking a winner. Its an opportunity to learn something about artists in different, often isolated, places and engage with galleries and communities outside one’s own. The Goulburn Art Award 2018 at the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery was one such opportunity with 67 entries from artists and media of every persuasion. Obviously it gets tricky making a final decision when there is so much variety but come Friday afternoon, the pressure is on and a short list of five possible prize winners emerges. Then the struggle begins. In art awards there are no specific criteria other than those the judge uses to reach a verdict that is both satisfactory and satisfying. One hopes the choice will be popular, while looking for technical excellence and innovative ideas – that might move audiences to consider new ways of looking at life and its issues. Mark Kelly’s mysterious Ghosts of the past (2018) is a dramatic photographic work that takes a painterly approach to a rather bleak landscape of silhouetted trees. Streaks of light swirling around the highly defined dark lands create an eerie scene that will make you believe that tees have the ability to haunt. Lines cut into blocks of wood are the stuff that Birte Larsen’s earthy work is constructed from. There is an almost haphazard ambience to Grey matter III (2108) which is in fact, a perfectly constructed assemblage, drawing and painting, with traces of concrete. In An elephant never forgets (2017), Cooper Pearce winner of the Young Artists section uses the myth of the elephants graveyard to produce an apocalyptic vision of consumer societies. The bones of elephants are beautifully integrated into the detritus of modern life in a monochromatic view of the future – with just a patch of red containing a skeleton that serves to drive the message home. Cooper is a talented young artist and certainly someone to watch. The gallery was packed for speeches by Gina Mobayed (Director, Goulburn Regional Gallery), Bob Kirk (Mayor of Goulburn) and then myself, including the honour of announcing the winners. This was followed by a frenzy of photography (always a good sign) and Cooper, arriving after work at a local cafe, was literally mobbed. It was just the beginning of a great evening which moved to the Goulburn Club for pizza and more wine. Big thanks to Gina, Janenne, Andre, Sally and everyone else at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery for a wonderful and memorable time. And the good news is we all have to go back for the opening of Shagsy Shags’s show in May.
Goulburn Art Award at the Goulburn Regional Gallery, Cnr Church & Bourke Sts. Goulburn NSW 2580, until 28 April.
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