Congratulations to Melbourne-based artist Vanessa Kelly who has won the 2018 John Leslie Art Prize for landscape painting. The $20,000 biennial acquisitive prize is named after John Leslie OBE (1919-2016), a former patron of the Gippsland Art Gallery, where the event is held.
This year the prize was judged by Andrew Frost, Sydney-based art writer, critic, broadcaster and Art Guide Australia regular, who selected Kelly’s painting Wyatt Brothers Chicory Kiln, Corinella Gippsland from a field of 59 finalists.
“This is a uniquely Australian landscape, in that it is marked by time. In regional areas buildings don’t get suddenly erased, as they do in the city, they just slowly weather away. This painting records an instance of that,” Frost said of Kelly’s winning work. “The painting is in a realist style but it’s not overdone, it’s quite subtle. It’s quite painterly in the way the artist has dealt with surface. There’s a balance between something impressionistic and something illustrative. The artist has found a beautiful balance between the two.”
Although Kelly’s work also depicts Gippsland, the $1000 non-acquisitive prize for Best Gippsland Work was awarded to Andrea Sinclair for Bonfire at Yarragon South.
Frost said Sinclair’s painting “conveys a sense of regional Australia. It’s not romanticising the subject, it’s about a real place. It has a beautiful ‘you are here’ feeling that we associate intimately with the experience.”
Works by all 59 finalists in the John Leslie Art Prize are on show at the Gippsland Art Gallery until 25 November.