It’s a first: Local artist scoops Sunshine Coast Art Prize
  • Friday 28 August 2009

Maleny artist Peter Hudson has beaten a field of top Australian artists to scoop this year’s Sunshine Coast Art Prize with a highly emotive oil painting of fish surging towards a moon rising over the ocean.

This is the first time a Sunshine Coast artist has won the prestigious national art prize, beating 39 other outstanding finalists from around Australia with an entry described by judge Phillip Bacon as “an arresting image, very beautifully painted and one of this local artist’s most mature works”.

Before this win, Hudson was already on a wave of success with his art developing a growing following, including being named a finalist in the 2007 Archibald prize for his portrait of Paul Kelly.

He described his winning SCAP painting, entitled Law, as breaching the divide between the natural and human worlds.

“Sadly, modern humans are losing their consciousness and their connection to homeland,” he said. “The painting Law is a reminder of scale, power, beauty, deep mystery and living in hope that all will be OK.”

Judge Phillip Bacon said he chose the winning painting, which will be added to the gallery’s permanent collection, because: “The ebb and flow of human consciousness, indeed of human life, emanates from the canvas.

“I think this work is a worthy addition to the permanent collection, and I congratulate Peter Hudson, indeed all 40 finalists, for making this a particularly strong exhibition.”

The highly commended award went to New South Wales artist Catherine O’Donnell for One Way, a charcoal drawing of a deserted urban streetscape which Mr Bacon described as “a technical marvel, using that traditional (and difficult) medium of charcoal, with a high degree of skill”. He said the drawing “managed to make a gritty, urban everyday architectural monstrosity into a thing of beauty”.

The commended award went to Greer Honeywill’s striking photograph Architecture of the Heart III. Honeywill was inspired by the poetic words of Shakespeare’s Othello to create her image of a stack of birdcages in the moonlight, representing lost romance: “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for birds to peck at.”

Mr Bacon called it a “beautiful and haunting work full of atmosphere and an ethereal, other- worldly light. Technically it is a tour-de-force; if Caravaggio was working today, this is perhaps the sort of image he would be creating.”

Gallery Director John Waldron said this year’s entries were outstanding, making Peter Hudson’s win even more remarkable.

“It is great to see a local artist recognised for his undoubted skills on a national stage and I encourage residents to visit the gallery to see his work – and that of all the finalists – for themselves,” he said.

A People’s Award will go to the artist who garners the most votes from visitors to the gallery, which will exhibit the SCAP finalists until 4 October. Entry is free.

The Sunshine Coast Art Prize is funded by the Sunshine Coast Council to encourage artistic excellence and to bring quality artwork to a regional audience.