Western Sydney artist Linda Brescia has taken out the top award at the 2020 Blacktown City Art Prize for her portrait of American patron of the arts Peggy Guggenheim.
The winning piece, an acrylic on canvas artwork titled Peggy, was painted by Ms Brescia on the day submissions closed, having decided only the day before to enter the prestigious prize.
Peggy was chosen from 110 finalists and comes with a prize of $15,000.
Blacktown City Mayor, Tony Bleasdale OAM, congratulated Ms Brescia on her winning artwork, which will be acquired for the Blacktown City Art Collection.
“Now in its 25th year, the Blacktown City Art Prize is a major cultural event in Western Sydney,” Mayor Bleasdale said.
“There were a record number of pieces submitted this year – almost 900 – and all the finalists selected were incredibly impressive.
“Congratulations to Linda Brescia for winning the 2020 Blacktown City Art Prize for her striking portrait of the late Peggy Guggenheim, an incredibly important patron of the arts.
“I encourage Blacktown City residents, visitors, and art lovers alike to view Peggy – and all our finalist artworks – in person at the BCAP exhibition now open at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre.”
Ms Brescia, who has previously been a finalist multiple times in the BCAP, said she was at first speechless to hear she had won, and then elated.
“Winning the Blacktown City Art Prize offers much appreciated encouragement and support,” Ms Brescia said.
“This has been a hard year for everyone. I hadn’t exhibited work in a gallery all year and thought I should make an effort to be in at least one exhibition.
“Deciding to enter the prize the day before entries were due, Peggy Guggenheim, that great supporter of artists and the arts, would be the subject.”
While painting with a deadline on the day submissions were due, Ms Brescia, who lives in Abbotsbury, received the news that her good friend and fellow artist Elaine Campaner had passed away.
“Elaine then became part of the portrait. The painting in Peggy’s earring reflects one of Elaine’s artworks – Travelling North (inclement), 2009′,” Ms Brescia said.
“If Peggy knew Elaine I’d like to think she would have supported her.”
The judging panel of Kyra Kum-Sing, Pedro de Almeida, and Cath Barcan faced the difficult task of selecting the final artworks for the exhibition, whittling the 897 entries from 660 artists down to 110 finalists.
The three judges commented that Ms Brescia’s winning artwork was an evocative, fierce portrait of a historical feminist icon which was a fragment of a sophisticated practice.
Highly Commended for the Blacktown City Art Prize is Broken Hill artist Asma D. Mather for the copperplate etching From what the River knows (a contemplation) and Lane Cove artist Debbey Watson for the ceramic artwork Ruminations II.
The winner of the Aboriginal Artist Prize is Little Bay resident Dennis Golding for his piece From Home to Home, made with velvet, satin fabric, acrylic and sequins.
Mr Golding is a Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay man from northwest NSW, who was born and raised in Sydney.
From Home to Home is a superhero cape, which serves as a self-portrait of Mr Golding, that depicts visual representations of memory, lived experiences, connections to Country and superpower.
“I produce small paintings within the cape from other materials such as acrylics, sequins and satin fabrics that reference my memories of living in urban environments and travelling to and from Country,” Mr Golding said.
“Through the visual motif of the superhero cape, I present an empowering representation of culture, identity and lived experiences in both urban and rural spaces.”
Highly Commended in the Aboriginal Artist Prize is St Peters-based artist Jason Wing for Captain James Crook (Unmasked), a digital print and hand-painted silk screen with UV light-sensitive ink.
The Local Artist Prize has been awarded to Seven Hills resident Graham Cheney for his acrylic on canvas artwork Auntie Rita Wright.
Auntie Rita Wright is an Aboriginal leader, a survivor of the Stolen Generation, and a resident of Shalvey, in Blacktown City.
Mr Cheney also worked with Auntie Rita and students from Kellyville High School, where he teaches, on the prize-winning feature film ‘Barrangal Skin’, which recounts the stories of Auntie Rita and others to help raise awareness of the Stolen Generation.
“I’ve been creating art that focuses on the stories and histories of people from Sydney’s greater west for a long time, so winning the Local Artist Prize is really important to me,” Mr Cheney said.
“My painting is a portrait for Auntie Rita Wright, an Aboriginal leader who has spent her life sharing her own tragic experiences and helping create dialogue between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in western Sydney.”
Highly Commended in the Local Artist Prize is Blacktown resident Jay Wassell for Recycled Memories, using oil paint on 100 Instax Polaroid photos.
Both the Aboriginal Artist Prize and the Local Artist Prize comes with a prize of $2000.
The winning artworks are now on display at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre until 28 January, 2021, as part of the Blacktown City Art Prize exhibition.
All 110 finalist artworks from across Australia are featured in the exhibition, which is free to attend.
These pieces are all eligible for the People’s Choice Award, and the public is invited to vote for their favourite work in the exhibition.
Only one vote per person will be counted, and voting can be done at the exhibition or online at https://blacktownarts.com.au/bcap/finalists/.
Blacktown City Art Prize: $15,000
Aboriginal Artist Prize: $2,000
Local Artist Prize: $2,000
People’s Choice Prize: $1,000
Artworks in the exhibition are available to buy in person at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre or online via the Blacktown Arts website for the duration of the exhibition.
Visit the online store at https://blacktownarts.com.au/bcap/shop/.