Armidale-based artist Leah Bullen has been announced as the winner of the 2021 Stanthorpe Art Prize.
After a long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Stanthorpe Art Prize winners were announced at a gala opening last Friday.
Ms Bullen won first prize, with her watercolour, Memoryscape (Garden with sunflowers and pencil pines) and was awarded the $22,000 Best in Show as well as the $3,500 2D Painting/Drawing category prizes.
With a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) and a Doctor of Philosophy Creative Arts from the School of Art & Design at the Australian National University, Ms Bullen is a successful and accomplished artist.
In 2016, she was the winner of the Trustees' Watercolour Prize as part of the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
"I started this work of a garden before the hardest part of the drought," Ms Bullen said.
"For me gardens and gardening have always been a place and an activity centred around family, the beauty of nature and tranquillity.
"Memoryscape has gained a new currency over this challenging summer.
"It is a landscape of personal memories, daydreams and nostalgia - a landscape of ecological grief."
Both judges, Simon Wright from the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art and Rachael Parsons from the New England Regional Art Museum agreed that the decision to award Leah Bullen first prize was the easiest choice in the awards.
They highlighted her accomplishment in a tricky and unforgiving medium.
"I can smell that scene," Mr Wright said.
"It's like comfort food."
Ms Parsons commented on the outstanding quality of the beauty, texture, depth and colour in the work, balanced with the conceptual and technical vigour.
Artists were shortlisted during the first nationwide lockdown in May last year, and the exhibition was delayed from it's June opening to February this year.
Gallery Director, Mary Findlay, expressed her appreciation to the finalists for their understanding and support of the rescheduled exhibition.
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