I had a wonderful time at the Nillumbik prize opening, nice to see my work at Montsalvat where I met lots of interesting artists, drank lovely wine, enjoyed the art, had a beautiful dinner, but didn't win the prize. Oh well, I was pleased just to be in it and as the judge John Wolseley said himself, "All judges are idiots!" Only joking, this judge was a bright spark actually. I felt the merging of many periods in my life and a great sense of achievement to be included in this event.
I spent the evening chatting with lots of people, re-finding my Life Drawing teacher from NMIT the fabulous Annita Furey, who was great to see again. Among other familiar faces was Jole di Florio who I studied drawing with at RMIT, Kaya Storm, Hillary Jackman and Matcham Skipper of course, (resident jeweler of Monntsalvat). John Wolseley and Morag Fraser AO (Chair of the Montsalvat Board), gave dynamic speeches which were very real and passionate. To quote John Wolseley's very humorous speech again "Don't you hate people who name drop?"
I enjoyed being part of this lively art crowd for the night and felt like an honorary member of the community just being included in the show.
Interestingly, the piece that won was the only video work Wet Feet Under the Pier by Dena Ashbolt. It seemed quite a controversial choice and I get the feeling it stirred things up for some of the artists there. Having a background in video projection (my Masters was on Light as a Medium), I could appreciate the themes in this work, yet I was surprised by the decision. Many people seemed mystified by a video work in amongst so many more traditional mediums.
I had an interesting conversation with Artistic Manager Simone deHaan about the gap between the more regional and the inner city art communities, and the need for more dialog between the two. Imagine the benefit of more exchange between those interested in traditional forms of art and local culture, and those interested in new mediums and broader contemporary practice. Of course, there is obviously a mix between artists with these interests, but there also seems to be a lack of understanding and some sort of cultural divide between artists working in different ways that I feel could be addressed. After all, artists and should feel free to draw on a wide range traditions and mediums and engage in new or old ways of making art. As artists and viewers don't we gain more by remaining open to different forms then by dismissing them?
It was clear that John Wolseley's choice intentionally supported the art practice in a relatively new medium and stimulated a lot of discussions that night which are probably still continuing...