A former Milton artist with ghosts on her side has won the 2016 Basil Sellers Art Prize.
Bega artist Merryn Sommerville won this year’s $15,000 prize for her work, Ghosts I’ve Met.
The pastel and pencil work on paper was chosen from 27 shortlisted works and was announced at the Mechanics Institute in Moruya on Thursday, October 13.
Ms Sommerville, 28, grew up in Milton and holds her first solo show at a Melbourne gallery soon.
Philanthropist Basil Sellers funds the prize, awarded every two years.
Deb Thompson, Mr Sellers’ director of charities, announced the winner.
The winning work will be added to Mr Sellers’ extensive collection of modern Australian and European art, kept at his Sydney home.
Mogo’s Mary Watson is $1000 happier after winning Eurobodalla Shire Council’s $1000 Highly Commended Award for her ceramic pieces Sunday Morning at Surf Beach.
Mayor Liz Innes told the crowd she was proud Mr Sellers had chosen the shire to showcase his generosity.
“This art prize starts conversations in our community about why we value art, and I’m inspired by the diversity of works this year,” Cr Innes said.
“I hope the exhibition will encourage local budding artists to explore their creativity.”
Judges were Dr Janda Gooding from the National Museum of Australia, Tony Oates from ANU’s Drill Hall Gallery, and Deborah Clark from the Canberra Museum and Gallery.
Ms Clark determining 27 finalists from more than 100 entries was rewarding and enjoyable.
“We had a rich set of offerings and a wonderful range of subject matter and mediums and we enjoyed the judging very much,” she said.
“To be a finalist in this show in a great thing.”
“Indigenous elder Loretta Parsley provided a warm and entertaining Welcome to Country, draped in a possum-skin cloak made by local Aboriginal people,” a council spokeswoman said.
“A long line of people took up Ms Parsley’s offer to try on the cloak after the ceremony.”
Council’s arts and culture coordinator Indi Carmichael organises the Prize and said the quality of Basil Sellers entries continued to improve.
“The entries are representative of the south coast region and are a true expression of our talented arts community,” she said.
Art lovers can learn more about Merryn and her work when she presents the 2016 Winner’s Floor Talk on Sunday, October 16 at 2pm at the institute.
Visitors to the exhibition, open daily from 10am to 4pm, can vote in the People’s Choice Award until Thursday, October 27, when the exhibition closes. The winner wins $500 from South East Arts.
The Basil Sellers Art Prize was established in 2004 as a biennial event for artists in the Eurobodalla. In 2010 the exhibition extended its reach to include entries from south east NSW and is now one of the region’s most prestigious art events.
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