QPRC and Bendigo Bank 2023 Art Awards winners announced

2023 Art Award winner Lesley Sykes with their artwork Bush Track - Bottom Pond

At last night’s QPRC and Bendigo Bank 2023 Art Awards exhibition opening, eight exceptional local artists were recognised from a talented pool of 63 artists vying for the awards.

Taking home the $5,000 Major Acquisitive Award was Lesley Sykes, whose work Bush Track – Bottom Pond most caught the eye of the three independent judges.

The judges described Lesley’s work as ‘A beautifully textured piece that captures the vitality and nuance of the natural environment. The sgraffito technique artfully renders a complex scene gracefully. The technique offers layered complexity and a transient shimmering quality of light, bright and filtered moving across and through this rich vibrant scene. The translucent leaves in the foreground invite close interpretation, leading the viewer to search the bushland floor. How delightful to discover a dragonfly seemingly at home there hidden in the scene.’

The independent judges from outside the QPRC region were Susan Brindle, President of the Southern Tablelands Arts Board, Sally Adair – a multi-disciplinary artist and art educator based in the ACT, and Jennie Gordon – a proud Ngunnawal woman from Goulburn and supporter of artists and community art.

Winner of the $3,000 3D Award was Lea Durie with a ceramic piece titled Gorge yourself. The judges described this work as ‘a very accomplished work that is a fine example of contemporary ceramics.’ Highly Commended in the 3D Award category was Merran Toone, whose Riva was a sculptural representation of a platypus made from corrugated cardboard.

The $2,000 First Nations Award went to Lea Palij, for the acrylic on canvas piece titled Mute. The judges described this work as ‘representing two worlds, using symbolism of contemporary and current contexts for ‘signs’.’ The First Nations Highly Commended went to Gail Neuss for their large acrylic and ash charcoal piece Through my eyes – Kunama to Coast.

The Braidwood and Bungendore branches of the Bendigo Bank, a proud sponsor of the awards since 2021, increased their financial contribution this year bumping up the total prize money to $16,000 which allowed additional awards as well as highly commended awards in four categories.

The Bendigo Bank also chose their own award winner and highly commended. The winner of the $1,000 Bendigo Pick Award was Bungendore photographer Jerusha McDowell for their photograph Morning Retreats. The $500 Bendigo Highly Commended was Angela Harris for their unique portrait created from tightly coiled paper, titled Spring has Sprung.

The $2,000 Emerging Artist Award winner was Mahala Hill for their work Plastic Disease II. Mahala describes this complex and engaging work as ‘the constructed Australian Native Bee has emerged as the living dead, a ghostly shell of its former self. The sculpture challenges the anthropocentric view, depicting ‘the rest’ as the sole survivor of our conceivable environmental demise. Stressing the need for action to prevent the continued loss of these critical creatures.’

The exhibition continues at The Q Exhibition Space until 10 June and with 63 entries from across the QPRC area, this exhibition is well worth a visit.

Artists are well represented from across the QPRC region, 21 entries have come from Braidwood and surrounds including Majors Creek and Araluen, 9 entries have come from Bungendore and surrounds including Wamboin and Captains Flat and 33 entries have come from Queanbeyan and surrounds including Burra, Carwoola and Jerrabomberra.

Following the conclusion of the exhibition, a $1,000 People’s Choice Award winner and $500 People’s Choice Highly Commended will be awarded. Everyone is invited to view the exhibition and cast their vote before 10 June.

The Q Exhibition Space will be open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm at The Q – Performing Arts Centre, 253 Crawford Street, Queanbeyan.

/Public Release. View in full here.