Pilbara artists shine bright in Australia’s top regional art prize

Nearly $90,000 was awarded at the nation’s most unique regional art prize at the weekend, with 300 artists vying for top honors at the prestigious 25th annual Cossack Art Awards.

Showcasing some of the best artistic talent from around Australia, artists from the Pilbara did particularly well at this year’s awards taking out half of the 10 prizes announced on the night, with the $3,000 Horizon Power People’s Choice prize to be announced at the end of the exhibition.

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said this year’s awards showcased some of the best work he’d seen there.

“The Cossack Art Awards seems to get better and better with every year. To think what started as a humble celebration of local art is now celebrating its 25th year as a nationally recognised and significant art prize is truly remarkable,” Cr Long said.

“It’s fantastic to see Pilbara artists doing well again this year. We have a wonderfully rich and diverse local arts scene which is starting to make a real name for itself so it’s terrific to see the likes of the Doreen Chapman, Carrie McDowell, Nyaparu ‘William’ Gardiner, Greg Taylor and emerging artist Tessa Laing taking out some of the top prizes.”

“It’s a real credit to the artists the high calibre of work on display this year. I encourage all who have the opportunity to do so to visit the exhibition to see just how special it is this year.”

In celebration of the Awards’ 25th year, a retrospective exhibition is being held in the Galbraith Store, alongside the main exhibition, showcasing the past 24 Best Overall category winners.

Rio Tinto general manager Ports Dampier Jess Farrell said this year’s Cossack Art Awards was a great event, with amazing artworks adorning the walls of the Bond Store creating a colourful and creative exhibition.

“Each year we are wowed by the talent on display at the Cossack Art Awards and this year has been no exception,” said Ms Farrell.

“On behalf of Rio Tinto, congratulations to all the entrants and winning artists. I encourage everyone to make some time over the next three weeks to visit the display and check out what’s on offer as part of the public program,” said Ms Farrell.

The 2017 Cossack Art Award Category Winners are:

Best Overall - $15,000
Sponsor - City of Karratha
Artist: Michelle Hawkins
Title: Lulu
Artwork No: 3310
Judges’ Comments:
This is a haunting piece that is so good it is hard to tell whether a print or charcoal medium has been used. A small, androgynous work with such an enormous presence. Extraordinary dexterity and use of charcoal, both in subject matter and the way it has been captured. It is enigmatic and draws you in. A compelling piece that leaves the viewer wanting to know the story.

Best Artwork by Pilbara Artist - $10,000
Sponsor - Pilbara Ports Authority
Artist: Doreen Chapman
Title: Untitled
Artwork No:  3513
Judges’ Comments:
Abstract meets realism; deliberate, competent naivety. The artist displays confident use of colour and paint with the use of bold and bright tones. An interesting colour contrast with wonderful simplification of shapes breaking down the negative space.

Emerging Young Artist - $8,000
Sponsor - CITIC Pacific Mining
Artist: Tessa Laing
Title: Pelago
Artwork No: 3102
Judges’ Comments
This work is the “Pilbara Luna Park”, representing a serious topic portrayed with humour. This emerging young artist has shown great use of technical skill on an unusual subject matter. This work displays social commentary around human interaction with the environment.

Painting by Pilbara Indigenous Artist - $8,000
Sponsor - Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation Ltd
Artist: Nyaparu “William” Gardiner
Title: Thurla Glass
Artwork No: 3514
Judges’ Comments
This work has captured the attitude of the person. It is abstract yet contemporary, unique and not derivitive. Nice use of silhouette with an interesting relationship between figure and landscape. This work is mysterious and it is great to see artists experimenting, pushing the mediums and expectations of Indigenous art.

Works on Paper - $8,000
Sponsor - City of Karratha
Artist: Carrie McDowell
Title: On the Land
Artwork No:
Judges’ Comments:
This is an original work with delicate use of mapping and stitching. A confident, balanced and detailed use of the mix media dimension. This work tells the story of the impact of livestock on the land. It is an intimate work that shows unique contrast between black, white and colour.

Painting Open Theme - $8,000
Sponsor - Rio Tinto
Artist: Basil Antonas
Title: Rawness
Artwork No: 4031
Judges’ Comments:
This work is unique and stood out through its contrasting use of colour. The judges were attracted to this piece as it is purely about the balanced use of medium on the surface. Good composition, viewers are stimulated to bring their own interpretation.

Painting Pilbara Landscape - $8,000
Sponsor - Rio Tinto
Artist: Douglas Kirsop
Title: Pilbara Aerial
Artwork No: 3613
Judges’ Comments:
This is a compelling aerial landscape that is highly reminiscent of the desert, a hard landscape to depict. The artist uses colour to bring this to life. Competent use of loose brush strokes are used to create tight composition and bring the piece together. This piece draws eyes to the centre with a hint of human presence.

Portraits - $8,000
Sponsor - Quadrant Energy and Santos, Joint Venture Partners in the Devil Creek Gas Plant
Artist: Greg Taylor
Title: Don McLeod’s Dream
Artwork No: 3320
Judges’ Comments:
This piece sparks your imagination, it tells a story but so much is left unsaid which triggers the viewer’s imagination. Less is more with this piece with really nice use of colour. The artist uses simple means to be highly expressive and is confident with the use of text.

Invited Artists - $8,000
Sponsor - ECM Pty Ltd
Artist: Laurel Nannup
Title: First Contact
Artwork No: 3204
Judges’ Comments:
This is a strong, tight and well printed piece. It is a symbolic design that displays humour and joy with serious undertones. The artist tells a story in a very strong and striking way whilst asking questions of the viewer.

North West Flora and Fauna - $8,000
Sponsor - City of Karratha
Artist: Clare McFarlane
Title: Pink and Grey
Artwork No: 3415
Judges’ Comments:
Great display of technical skill with well composed contrast between the subject matter and the detailed background. This work is realistic yet stylised, a study in still life. Strong use of texture between the feathers and stylised leaf pattern. Extremely well composed work.

The Cossack Art Awards is presented by the City of Karratha with principal partner Rio Tinto, category sponsors Pilbara Port Authority, Horizon Power, Citic Pacific Mining, ECM Pty Ltd, Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation Ltd, Quadrant Energy and Santos, Joint Venture Partners in the Devil Creek Gas Plant; public program sponsors ATCO Power Australia and Pilbara Development Commission; and event sponsors Cleanaway, Ibis Styles, Onsite Rental Group, IAS Fine Art Logistics, Fence It WA, Karratha Visitor Centre, HeliSpirit, JSS Logistics Pilbara and GWN7.

The Cossack Art Awards is on display from 23 July to 13 August, open from 10am to 3pm daily with free admission in the heritage-listed town of Cossack.

For more information on the Cossack Art Awards visit www.cossackartawards.com.au.

To stay up to date with all Cossack Art Awards news visit and like www.facebook.com/cossackartawards

  Best Overall Artwork. Artist: Michelle Hawkins Title: Lulu

Best Overall Artwork. Artist: Michelle Hawkins Title: Lulu