Artist Karyn Thompson has won the 2020 Basil Sellers Art Prize People’s Choice Award, with a vision of the Black Summer bushfires from her Verona property, south of Cobargo, which came under attack on New Year’s Eve 2019.
Her triptych, Portents, depicts a view of burning ridgelines seen from her property, each panel overlaid with one of the charred leaves that spiralled from the sky that afternoon.
The large artwork resonated with more than 2300 visitors to the Basil Sellers Art Prize exhibition, winning the People’s Choice Award, for which voting closed on Sunday, 8 November.
“I’m honoured and delighted,” said Ms Thompson.
“Portents was not so much about what was happening at the time, but capturing the feeling. The positive response means so much to me – how it has resonated with so many other people, their stories, their experiences.”
Ms Thompson said she began the work in early January, but it took a while to finish it.
“I wanted to convey the story, but was feeling unsure of how to proceed,” she said.
“I think art is an important part of reflecting on, and responding to, life, life’s difficulties and joys.”
Ms Thompson said she moved to the area in 2015, first to Quaama then to the historic property, ‘Avalon’, at Verona. She and her partner stayed to defend their home on New Year’s Eve.
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“It is a very old property, established in 1908,” she said. “We have six acres surrounded by a dairy farm, some of which made up the original property.”
Eurobodalla Shire Council arts coordinator Indi Carmichael congratulated Ms Thompson, saying the 2020 Basil Sellers Art Prize had drawn an incredible array of talent.
“As ever, the People’s Choice Award was hotly contested,” she said.
“Two other works came in close, but the powerful symbols Karyn captured in Portents really struck a chord with viewers.
“As an interesting aside, Karyn also worked as a project architect with Munns Sly Moore Architects on the Basil Sellers Exhibition Centre, home of the art prize, helping to develop the building’s design.”
A virtual tour of the Basil Sellers Art Prize show, artists’ profiles and prize winners is available online.