THE winner of Australia’s richest landscape art prize, Country Energy’s $35,000 Countryscapes 2009, was announced to a packed house at the Lismore Regional Gallery yesterday.
Of the 49 finalists from all over country and coastal NSW, an amazing 21 were carrying the flag for the Far North Coast.
Of those, 12 were from the Byron Shire, five from Lismore, two from the Clarence and one each from the Richmond Valley and Ballina.
Bathurst landscape painter Graham Lupp took out first prize with a striking depiction of his favourite place, Hen and Chicken Lane– a hillside near his home in Perthville.
“I walk there in the afternoons with my wife,” he said. “It’s a part of my psyche.”
Judge and leading art critic Michael Reid said the work showed ‘confidence and an obvious technical quality’.
Local artist Lynne Wallis, of Byron Bay, won the employee’s choice award for her seascape titled Light Dancing Below the Headland.
Four other local artists – Clair Hopkins, Anthony Leitch, Jan Rae and Robyn Sweaney – were highly commended.
Ms Sweaney, a Countryscapes finalist in 2005 and 2007, described her Heading Home/Coorabell as about travel and distance and heading home. She describes her work as all about place.
“It’s about where I live. I’m interested in the expanse of space in the country,” she said.
“I’m recording for history – my own history, a personal history.”
The Countryscapes prize was initiated in 2003 to nurture artistic talent in country NSW.
Country Energy’s regional general manager, Richard Wake, described the prize as a great way to raise the profile of regional artists and invest in the cultural life of local communities.