MORE than 150 people turned up to the opening night of the 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize.
There were 403 entries, 99 of which were named finalists and displayed in the gallery.
Saturday’s crowd viewed the exhibition and eagerly awaited the announcement from adjudicator Anne Ryan, curator of Australia prints, drawing and watercolours, Art Gallery of NSW.
For Section A - Painting, Ms Ryan awarded a highly commended to Bruno Leti, Broken Surface 2014, oil; Guy Maestri, Wreck 2013, oil; Helen McCullagh, Fleuriste 2015, oil; Rex Turnbull, The Long Walk Home to Gunning 2014, acrylic; and Stuart Watters, Dirt Rich Country 2013, oil.
Emerging artist Nick Ferguson picked up the $40,000 painting prize for Swimming (Bruce Spence) 2013, oil on canvas.
“This is a painterly, highly charged portrait that offers psychological insight into its subject,” Ms Ryan told those present.
“The handling of paint and form is intuitive and explorative; the viewer gets a sense of the artist’s search for form and resolution as the painting is built up in layers of paint and colour.
“The subject’s downcast eyes and hands, poised in mid-air as if in the middle of some action, add a visual and psychological tension to the composition.”
Section B - Works on Paper, $10,000, was awarded to John Bokor for Ness and Lizzie’s Lounge Room 2004, charcoal and watercolour.
A highly commended was given to Liz Cumming, Breakaways Moment 2014, mixed media; Rew Hanks, Banks, which one is mine? 2013, linocut; Amber-Rose Hulme, Gossip 2014, pastel.
Jane McKenzie won Section C - Ceramics for Assemblage 2014, stoneware.
A highly commended was awarded to Paul Davis, Winter Rock 2013, stoneware clay and rice ash glaze; Vicky Hamilton, Party Animals 2014, porcelain; Helen Martin, Knit together: Collecting my thoughts 2014, porcelain saturated knitting.