Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Show 2014 - 10-23 April

March is always a busy time at Big Lamington HQ, and I'm not just referring to Art Month and the Biennale (what a palaver that has been).  The big event looming large on my calender each year is the Easter Show!  And yours truly was elbow deep in prep for the baking and preserving sections (yes, some ribbons won but sadly this isn't a blog to talk about jam rolls).  Now I said this last year but it deserves repeating for those that came in late.  The Easter Show is likely the oldest art prize in Australia. The Show itself kicking off in 1823 and awarding its first arts ribbons in 1869 (with the oldest AGNSW prize, the Wynne, only kicking off in 1897).  Despite the recent slur by art critic who should know better John McDonald (who said of the Australia exhibit at the Royal Academy that "I've seen more cohesive hangs at the Royal Easter Show"), this is one of my favourite events.  Democratic and very eclectic.  Let's look at the wares ...

There are quite a few categories, all with quite precise requirements, from sculptures (figurative, abstract and small are each separate categories) to still life, landscape, rural subject, australian birds, watercolour, then drawing and photography the schedule runs on and on.  Don't forget to include the gems of folk art and even the tea cosies are quite often works of art themselves (and some of the first works to be snapped up on opening night by savvy collectors.  There are thousands of works so I will just hit my highlights.  The winner of the blue ribbon for watercolour, Giulia Staudinger's 'Kookaburra' was an amazingly detailed piece and a worthy winner, though I wish she had entered it into the native bird section as I was a little disappointed in the avian art on offer here.  I actually preferred the winner of the separate poultry art competition (Turkeys, pictured above) to what was on offer in here.  The Show rewards traditional works and the winner of the still life was a classic, as was the winner of President's prize for 'best rural subject painted in a traditional style' by Melvin Duffy (To water, pictured top).  Melvin is in his 80's which just goes to show I've got quite a few years of exhibiting ahead of me.  The photography is always a bit mixed, or maybe it is the judging I don't agree with.  My pick here was Christina Peterson's Reflections which snagged her a 3rd prize ribbon in the open section.  Of all the categories, I was particularly enthusiastic about sculpture this year.  For those that can't resist skipping ahead you might have just spied that golden object pictured below.  This was the winner of the small sculpture section (less than 15cm in any dimension).  Titled "and the Gold Lamington for 2014 goes to ..." it won the blue ribbon in its section for James Dolton.  I agree with the judges here, what a great kitschy treat.  Like the CWA's version of the gold logies!  The abstract category was also a hit.  The 2nd prize winner from here, Julie Donnelly, was also a favourite with her tall assemblage of old crystal bowls, platters and cake stands (have a look at my twitter feed for an image).

Points:  Hands up who thinks the Big Lamington is going to give the 3 points to the Gold Lamington?  Give yourselves a highly commended ribbon 'cause you're dead right.  3 to James for his tasty looking treat.  2 points will go Julie for her repurposing some classic nana style crystal pieces into a contemporary work.  1 point will go to Melvin.  He really hit the brief with his traditional work although his signing the painting "Melvin Duffy OAM" in a large font is really subverting the anonymous judging!  Will have to keep an eye out for him next year ...

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