Art awards an all-female affair

IT WAS an all-female podium of winners at this year’s Victorian Indigenous Art Awards.

Jenny Crompton with her winning piece.

Jenny Crompton with her winning piece.

Winners of the 2014 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards were announced on Saturday night at the Art Gallery of Ballarat with five winners taking home more than $50,000 in prize money.

Bellbrae artist Jenny Crompton took out top honours to win the $30,000 Deadly Art Award for her piece Gathering at Godocut, which featured sculpted seaweed.

“This is past my wildest expectations, I’m still in shock,” she said.

Ms Crompton’s work, created with seaweed and binder, was inspired by walks along the beach near her Godocut (Point Addis) home.

“I work with what I find on my walks,” she said.

“I’ve worked with all different materials before, but seaweed is just beautiful to work with.

“Although it was a technique that took a while to master.”

It took Ms Crompton two years to master working with seaweed but it was worth it in the end, with the artist taking home the state’s richest award.

“It had its challenges. I used it when it was wet because it shrinks up to 50 per cent,” she said.

“The sun also colours and discolours it, and the structures in the seaweed mean that when it dries it can just crumble.”

“It was all about finding the seaweed at the right time.”

Local artist Deanne Gilson also took home the $5000 Australian Catholic University Acquisitive Award for her work Wadawurrung Cultural Tree of Knowledge.

“It was a shock, I was standing at the back and only half heard my name being called, I’m so grateful and thankful,” she said.

Drawn from charcoal, ochre and acrylic paints, Ms Gilson’s work explores her family’s history.

“I wanted to do something that shared all our family symbols and artefacts for my children,” she said.

“People should know their background – like old cave markings, my marks are on canvas now.

“Perhaps in a couple of hundred years my paintings might be an artefact.”

Of the 35 finalists who showcased both traditional and contemporary art practices, Footscray’s Paola Balla, Queensland’s Glennys Briggs and Wonthaggi’s Patrice Mahoney also took home awards from the night.

Minister for the Arts Heidi Victoria said the awards aimed to build the profile of South East Australian Aboriginal art and Victoria’s Indigenous artists.

alicia.thomas@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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