After 10 years of entering the Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards, Bundaberg artist Marlies Oakley has won first prize for her artwork Physical Distancing.
Marlies said Physical Distancing was created within fours days as an after-thought to enter the annual Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards.
She's thrilled it was recognised at one of Queensland's most prestigious regional art events.
Marlies and her husband Phil have played a big role in the local art scene in the Bundaberg Region for the last decade.
They are heavily involved as organisers of the annual Bundaberg Arts Prize, and with the deadline looming for local entries in this year’s competition, Marlies said entering the Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards almost slipped her mind.
“This year we have all been busy and rushing about,” Marlies said.
“Phil was getting ready to take a carload of art up to Gladstone for the awards, and I thought I had better create something so that Phil had one of my artworks in car to hang.
“Now I am so over the moon. And it’s nice after entering for 10 years to now have a winning piece.”
Physical Distancing inspired by pandemic
The Physical Distancing artwork was inspired by the current global coronavirus pandemic and Marlies says all art is open to interpretation.
“The great thing about art is it’s open to the individual’s interpretation,” she said.
“The judges' comments included that they saw COVID-19 could turn the world upside down, while others see the old and the new through the black and white and the colour.
“It's really great that people use their heads to think about art, not just their eyes. And that is what I enjoy most about creating my collages.”
The Art Plus co-owner said the best incentive for winning first prize at the Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards was knowing she had done so following her passion for collage.
“I am just so excited I won with a collage,” Marlies said.
“It is so much more than just cutting and pasting. There is a lot of thought and research that goes into it.
“I used old magazines and vintage books with Australian images in this piece.
“And what I love is people can bring their own interpretation to it.”
Marlies said her Physical Distancing contained “quirky and hidden” images that were revealed to the observer the closer they looked.
“Winning this award is definitely a highlight for me and its something I will put on my CV, and it opens the doors to bigger and better things. I am so pleased,” she said.
Art becomes life for Marlies
Marlies said when she moved to Australia in 2001, she and Phil wanted a way to meet people and they decided to follow a creative path, which almost two decades later has led them to some wonderful places.
“I started art in 2001 when I moved to Australia from England, I had never done anything artistic before, and it was either follow the creative path or join a gym in order to meet people – I chose the creative path,” she said.
“It really is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and now my life revolves around it.”
Marlies said there was still time for local artist to submit their work into this year's Bundaberg Art Prize, and she encouraged community members to take a leap of faith and enter.
“There is still time left if people want to enter, and if they do who knows where it will take them,” she said.
The 45th anniversary of the Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards was held in Gladstone, with judging announced on Saturday night.
Since its inauguration in 1976, the art awards have become one of Queensland’s most prestigious regional art events and is eagerly anticipated each year.
Marlies said Physical Distancing was for sale, and the 45th Rio Tinto Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards exhibition would run until the end of January. For more information click here.
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