Naracoorte High School student Sophie Henschke was all smiles after taking home first prize in the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival design competition on Thursday night.
As part of her prize, Sophie will take home $500 donated by the Penola and Districts Business and Tourism Association, and her design will feature on the 2018 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival poster.
Design judges said: “The winning entry captures the essence of the Arts Festival with its bold design, which will easily adapt to its differing purposes with its strong design.”
The official opening of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival kicked off on Thursday evening at the Penola High School.
The John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize continued to attract a wide range of entries from within the region and beyond.
Artists work in a two dimensional medium and the annual competition has firmly made its mark on the artists’ calendar.
The Acquisitive Art Prize is open to all emerging and established artists from throughout Australia and must be inspired by the works of famous Penola poet John Shaw Neilson.
This event was created 26 years ago and has been growing in reputation every year. The major prize of $10,000 is again generously sponsored by The Balnaves Foundation.
As in past years, the Local Art Prize is open to artists residing within the Limestone Coast region and is valued at $500. This prize is sponsored by well known local artist, Lois Hodge.
The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival committee continues its long-standing relationship with the Art Gallery of SA and were fortunate to have Rebecca Evans judge this year’s art prizes.
Rebecca is the curator of Decorative Arts at the AGSA and was very enthusiastic about the high quality of entries for the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize, the Local Art Prize and the Design Prize.
JSN Acquisitive Art Prize winner $10,000 sponsored by The Balnaves Foundation
The John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize winner is Penny Dowie – “The Young Widow”
Based on the poem “Old Granny Sullivan” – a story of love, loss, joy, reflection, memory and a bride who leaves Scotland for rural Australia. The drawing by Dowie is graphite pencil on a grey painted canvas and the muted tones present a powerful depiction of “Old Granny Sullivan” as a young bride. The artist has focused on a few lines of the poem “her wedding dress I knew by heart, yes! Every flounce and frill!”. Dowie has exquisitely depicted the woman in her wedding dress using fast cross-hatched lines around the folds of the skirt, her sleeves and veil. The drawing has fluidity and movement and this generates feelings of transience that this moment, her wedding (the height of femininity in the 19th century) won’t last, especially as we knew her story through John Shaw Neilson’s poem.
The face of the woman is reflective and contemplative and in her left hand she has dropped a bouquet of flowers. In the sky are parrots flying by and all of this is depicted with a loose, fast pencil. This mark making generates feeling of fragility, passing of time and memories.
The artwork was chosen for its unique interpretation of the poem, focusing on the one beautiful line but also capturing the essence of the entire poem through the artist’s mark making. The powerful and bold use of a limited pallet, technical ability and engagement with the subject.
JSN Local Prize winner $500 sponsored by Lois Hodge
Dagny Strand – “Vanishing Point”
“The Land Where I Was Born” - the people appear fragile underneath the dark and gloomy clouds rolling in. They continue their work despite the threat of the storm.
This work was chosen as the Local prize for its contemporary depiction of landscape in the South East (and grape pickers). It’s a reminder that we still live on the same land as what John Shaw Neilson worked and wrote about.
The technical ability beautifully executed in oils through the dark grey and purple rolling storm clouds with glimpses of sun and clear sky.
JSN Highly Commended Prize sponsored by Penola High School
Suzie Riley – “Music is of the Sunlight” from the poem “The Sun is Up”
I love the loose, energetic depiction of light in this painting. The artist, Riley has used zig-zag lines in red, yellow and pink to show the very early morning sun bouncing off the trees depicting the blinding nature of the first hour of the sunlight in the morning.
It beautifully captures John Shaw Neilson’s poem “The Sun is Up” and reminds me of waking up in the early morning. Of hiking trips in the Australian bush and encountering an almost magical and mesmerising display of light.