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Art prize a hit

Wednesday, 9th September, 2020

Mrs Raylee Hart (centre), her daughter Julie Hart (right) and Julie’s sister-in-law Jayne Oates took the opportunity to view the exhibition on Saturday morning at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. PICTURE: Annette Northey Mrs Raylee Hart (centre), her daughter Julie Hart (right) and Julie’s sister-in-law Jayne Oates took the opportunity to view the exhibition on Saturday morning at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. PICTURE: Annette Northey

By Annette Northey

An Adelaide artist has taken out the $20,000 Pro Hart Outback Art Prize in a year like no other, with a recording-breaking number of entries and thousands of viewers watching the online presentation.

In all, 474 artists submitted a work to the art competition. A panel of five were then tasked with the painstaking process of selecting 23 finalists, with judge Susi Muddiman OAM ultimately choosing the winners.

The Acquisitive First Prize was awarded to Margaret Ambridge of Adelaide for her compressed charcoal and raindrops on paper drawing, Struggling to Remember.

The charcoal drawing is based on a landscape she drew when she was in the Gawler Ranges, and the charcoal used for it was carbon she collected from bushfire debris a little closer to home in the Adelaide Hills.

Margaret said she had already been working on a landscape and it happened spontaneously.

“The drought was quite present after last winter and I remember thinking it was just so dry, and then I heard the downpour of summer rain on the studio roof,” she said.

“I thought, wow, this is what this landscape really needs, so I suddenly thought to take the paper outside and see what happens.

“When I came back into the studio it was so warm that it just dried straight away.

“And I thought, well, that was a waste of time; but once I started putting the charcoal on the paper all the little raindrops sort of came to the surface.

“I remember thinking, well that must be what it’s like when land hasn’t seen rain for so long.”

The Non-Acquisitive Second Prize was awarded to local artist Ann Evers for her 3D work Contained and Baked in the Desert. Ann is known locally and afar for producing intricately-crafted baskets and other objects of superb quality using materials collected from the land, often on her walks and hikes with her partner and also with the Barrier Field Naturalists.

She describes her prize-winning work as: “Contained and Baked in the Desert found its shape during this time of self-isolation. The vessels took on a life of their own inside these small compartments ... much like most of us have done. They have all been made from plants collected in Far West NSW - plants which are increasingly vulnerable in this time of ongoing drought and baking summers.”

Ann has entered the competition three times prior to this year and has been shortlisted three times, so this is the first time she has won a prize.

As of about 3pm yesterday, 3700 people had viewed the online presentation on the gallery’s website. The video was largely produced and created by the very talented Gallery and Marketing Officer Jade Kerin on behalf of Broken Hill City Council, with help from other gallery staff.

Pro Hart’s wife, Mrs Raylee Hart, was impressed with the whole affair, watching the live-streamed presentation from the comfort of her home in Broken Hill on Friday night.

“I think Jade did a really great job of the video and the online presentation. It was very clever,” she said.

“It was absolutely fantastic to see so many entrants in the competition; it would have been really hard for the panel to decide on only 23 finalists.”

Mrs Hart was impressed with the judge’s decision this year, and the overall quality of the 23 shortlisted works.

“The winning piece, it was beautiful, I really liked it. Loved it.

“Showing the bushfires and, eventually, you get the rain coming down. It not only represented putting the bushfires out, but the rain showed new life.

“You could actually feel what the artist was trying to portray.

“I know Pro would have liked it too, absolutely.”

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