Gabrielle McDonald wins Bundaberg Art Prize

Gabrielle McDonald Bundaberg Arts Prize ’19 Outback Avatar.
Gabrielle McDonald won the 2019 Bundaberg Art Prize with Outback Avatar.

Gabrielle McDonald won the 2019 Bundaberg Art Prize for her artwork Outback Avatar made with recycled material.

Outback Avatar is described as an imaginative piece using recycled material to create the ultimate outback flying machine, leaving the viewer to create their own visual story. It's made from lumbar vertebrae from cows and repurposed materials.

Gabrielle was surprised when she heard her name called at the fully packed CBD pavilion on Saturday evening, saying she was overjoyed and couldn’t believe she’d won.

“What can I say; there are so many beautiful works here,” Gabrielle said.

“It’s fantastic and first class to have this sort of art prize here in Bundaberg.”

The Bargara artist said she’d only been practising art on a serious level for about three years but had always enjoyed dabbling in her creative side.

“It relates back to Bert Hinkler, but also I really love the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert and it's on my bucket list to one day and attend that. It’s full of amazing sculptures and so much creativity,” she said.

“But also, Mad Max is my favourite movie and some of my other pieces have been created around the Mad Max theme, with the cars and things.”

Making use of what’s already here

Using a material such as bones, Gabrielle said she sourced them from around Australia and would spend some time cleaning them in her Bargara backyard.

“There is a long process of cleaning them up, and if they are not done right, they can fall apart,” she said.

“My neighbours think of me as the crazy visual art lady as I have butchers’ hooks hanging from my frangipani tree where I dry the bones.”

Gabrielle said she was big on recycling and often had help when it came to sourcing material.

“A big shout out to all the boys, they know who they are, I couldn’t do this without their help!” she said.

Gabrielle McDonald Bundaberg Arts Prize ’19 first prize Outback Avatar.
Bundaberg Art Prize winner Gabrielle McDonald with National Art School senior lecturer Lorraine Kypiotis and the winning artwork, Outback Avatar.

“The boys from the recycling depot are just fabulous, they keep items, like the copper wiring aside for me and pieces from inside the air-conditioning units which I have used in this avatar piece.”

In making Outback Avatar, Gabrielle said she also frequented op shops and bought bags of toys, taking the pieces she needed and returning the rest.

“I’m a scrounger and a hoarder and that’s a good thing to be when you’re an artist,” she said.

“If my piece doesn’t sell I hope to take it along with all of my collection to Mona in Tasmania, where there are just some fantastic pieces of artwork!”

Overwhelmed by the win, Gabrielle said it nice to be surrounding by friends and thanked the local art community.

“Arts Plus have been one of my biggest supporters as an early entry and it’s great the support they give the whole region,” she said.

Judge’s comments on Art Prize winner

The Bundaberg Art Prize 2019 was judged by National Art School senior lecturer in art history and theory, Lorraine Kypiotis, who said the winning artwork touched on the history of the region while remaining unique and overall interesting.

“It basically ticked all the boxes. It is contemporary, is quirky and based on history and connected the theme to the wider community, with the reference to aviation history in Bundaberg,” Lorraine said.

“And it used all recycled materials and is aesthetically pleasing to look at.

“Ultimately what I ask myself when picking a winner is: could I live with them in my own home and wake up with them every morning and look at it and say, ‘yeah I love that artwork’.”

  • Earlier report: Bundaberg Art Prize draws 450 entries