A cathartic reaction to the isolation, danger, and trauma of the Black Summer bushfires has won a Tuross Heads artist the 2021 River of Art prize.
Geoffrey Odgers captured his response to the bushfires in a series of oil paintings, one of which caught the eye of judges.
“It was actually wonderful,” Mr Odgers said, after winning the prestigious prize with his work Burnt Offerings.
“It is judged by professional judges, so it’s always good to be acknowledged and recognised that way. And it’s just lovely to be part of the community for something like that as well.”
Mr Odgers’ Tuross Heads home fortunately wasn’t affected by the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, but that devastating period was still a terrifying time for residents there, along with others up and down the coast.
An artist for 55 years, Mr Odgers created Burnt Offerings as a way of expressing those feelings.
“It is just that cathartic reaction to the isolation, the danger, the trauma, all the associated feelings we had going through the bushfires,” he said.
When asked what he wanted his audience to take away from his artwork, he said: “there’s always a positive to be drawn from a horrible or negative experience.”
“And just hope, hope and positivity. That’s my main belief,” Mr Odgers said.
Fifty artists entered a total of 63 works from within and beyond the Eurobodalla in this year’s River of Art festival, demonstrating the quality and commitment of the region’s artists.
The festival’s second award went to Victoria Collins for Sapling Forest in Crimson and the highly commended prize went to Grace Paleg for Kiss the Floor.
“Congratulations to the winners for their artworks,” festival chair Leanne Joyce said. “It’s a very diverse exhibition from a highly talented and committed field.”
The winning artist receives $2000, with $250 for the runner up, and the artwork most highly commended awarded $100.
“We spent quite a while considering the final 22 entries from a very robust field and it was a difficult final decision,” judge Denise Ferris said.
“We feel that every work will find an appreciative audience and every entrant and their work matters.”
The final 22 works will hang at the Narooma School of Art studios until 6 February 2022 and are available to view on the River of Art website.
The 2022 festival will open in August.