Former Hennessy Catholic College student and Boorowa native Stella Evans has taken out the The Hero's Journey Art Prize 2020 for her work "The Road of Hope", depicting the hardships faced in rural Australia.
Stella, a 21-year-old University of Wollongong visual arts and graphic design student, was chosen by a panel of three independent judges to receive the $3,000 cash prize, described by judge Jaklyn Babington as "a personal story detailing her family's grit and resilience in the face of extreme hardship this year".
Stella said she was "shocked" and "excited" to learn she had won the prize.
"I thought I would give it a go, I wasn't expecting anything out of it," she said.
"I thought I may as well, it's a good, little side project and something to help me develop my graphic design skills."
'The Road of Hope' depicts Stella's father hand-feeding the sheep on their property amidst the dustbowl of a long drought, reflected in her choice of a sombre colour palette consisting mainly of shades of brown, yellow and cream, with her father's blue shirt providing the spark of colour and hope.
Developing the piece over the course of a few weeks, Stella created the poster in Adobe Illustrator using a photograph she had taken of her father, with other elements such as the freight truck, the dried up dam and the windmill then illustrated separately and integrated thoughtfully into the scene.
Growing up on her family's sheep farm in Boorowa, Stella said she has always known that life on the land is tough, but was still shocked by the mental, physical, emotional and financial effects of the current drought on not only her family but their entire community, and felt compelled to convey this in her artwork.
"I do focus a lot of my uni projects on this topic," she said. "I've realised many people in metropolitan areas haven't had that education or experience, they don't really know much about life in the country. I'm trying to get it out there." But the work also speaks to the hope and hard work put in by Australia's farmers. Dr Erica Seccombe, also an appointed judge for the prize, described Stella's work as "a composition [that] skillfully balances all of the formal elements together to create a resolved narrative that illustrates a heart-breaking experience with a hopeful message".
"The work is also inspired by the resilience of the people who live and work on the land, including my father, family and community," Stella said.
"The farmers are the everyday, silent heroes of our country who work day in, day out around the clock mostly in the middle of nowhere working to put food on our plate and clothes on our back. It's topic that needs a voice and I hope to use my art to be a voice for all living in the country." The posters of the 50 finalists are currently on display in a free, online exhibition on the aMBUSH Gallery website: www.ambushgallery.com
In November, a physical exhibition - featuring all entrants and the 50 finalists - will be held at aMBUSH Gallery (Kambri at ANU).
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