Highway proves a shock winner
BY UTE SCHULENBERG
IN the tradition of all good art prizes, the choice for this year's $5000 Lynch Art Prize has proved controversial.
On Friday night at the packed opening of this year's exhibition, the announcement of Bellingen artist, Jacqui Henwood, as this year's winner, momentarily stunned the audience.
Ms Henwood was in Sydney and Serena Lynch accepted the award on her behalf.
The piece, Pine Creek Revisited, uses toy animals and trucks to highlight the issue of the deadly highway black spot.
In a room filled with so many vibrant paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs, many found the choice surprising.
The judges, two of whom are directors of high profile modern art centres in Sydney (Kon Gouriotis and Elizabeth Ann Macgregor), explained the painting won because of its 'potent local' subject matter and its technical competence.
"It's a fabulous painting. I found it intriguing the work made that statement about this piece of road, known to everyone around here," Ms Macgregor said.
Many in the audience did not agree.
Comments such as 'really disappointing', 'trivially topical' and 'clever and skillful but there's more to art than that' were heard.
Bellingen Community Arts Council committee member, Reanne Brewin, said the decision certainly got people talking.
"We were very excited to have these high profile judges, which adds kudos to the event," Ms Brewin said. "But I think it is a curious outcome and does not necessarily reflect the agenda of our regional art prize."
People can visit the exhibition at the Bellingen Memorial Hall and vote for their 'people's choice' artwork until next Saturday.