Monday, December 13, 2010
An Art Prize!
'And the winner of this year's art prize in the 13 to 15 years age category is....'. Her name is announced, the smile appears on her face and she rises and steps forward to shake the hands of the judge who hands her a certificate and a cheque for $200 made out in her name. I beckon her over, she squeezes through the throngs of people who have gathered for the awards ceremony, she is still smiling, she is radiant. I congratulate her, I am so happy for her, so proud of her. I know she will never forget this moment. She returns to her seat for a short time to hear the announcement of the names of the winners in the other categories.
We live in an artistic community. Our small town and rural area has more than its fair share of artists and craftspeople - many are drawn here by the intense natural beauty of the valley. I often drive my country road and see groups of people sitting at easels in a field that overlooks the valley. Perhaps they are taking a landscape art class, when their work is finished they may contemplate entering the annual art prize hosted by the community arts council. The same council that also organizes an art prize for young people which has the aim of 'encouraging the young artists of the region to create and exhibit outstanding artworks.'
Reading her sister's story which was published in this book six years ago. She always used to ask me - 'Will I ever win anything?' I have always told her that one day her turn to achieve success would come - that she just had to be patient, be diligent in practicing what she is good at, to pursue her passion and make the most of every opportunity.
Her teacher had encouraged her to enter her artwork. The bonus of attending her Mandarin class and having a teacher who also happens to be an artist. Who has instructed her students in the intricate technique of Chinese brushwork with delicate inks and watercolours. Who also chose to display the work of the young people she has been teaching, at her own recent exhibition at a local gallery. My daughter's work was already framed and she was determined to enter the competition. She tracked down an entry form and kept reminding me of the closing date for entering, she dropped the work off at the gallery and made sure we remembered the time of the gala opening and prize giving. We had also been invited to a barbecue on the same day at the same time but told her we could be late for the barbecue - she was relieved!
We arrived at the gallery, a good turnout considering the number of other events taking place at this busy time of the year - dance recitals, work parties, family barbecues. 'Wow' - the standard of work was high - not a surprise for this town. Some of the other works were considerably bigger in size than my daughter's work - the time that must have been invested, the technical ability of some of the artists, especially in her age category was incredible. Her big brother whispered in my ear 'Have you seen what she is up against ?' I nodded and I knew which painting he was referring to - an outstanding work. A little cloak of disappointment began to draw over me. How little I understood about artistic expression!
We gathered for the speeches and the announcements. The judge mentioned the high standards, the incredible abilities and how artistic expression can give you an insight into how children see the world - differently. I thought of my daughter's painting - it was entitled 'Garden', quite abstract when viewed from a distance. And then you see it in the corner of the canvas - the tyre swing hanging from a tree. If you were asked to paint a picture of a garden what would you paint? Trees, shrubs, flowers, maybe pots or an urn? Yes, me too . I asked my daughter later on if she had looked at any paintings of gardens as inspiration for her work and mentioned the tyre swing. 'Oh no' she replied ' It was my imagination and I just love tyre swings!' I smiled and realized that the judge had seen this too - her interpretation of a garden.
We will visit the exhibition again this week. All the artworks are for sale. She is hoping her painting does not sell. The bare space on her bedroom wall awaits its return. However, we priced it very reasonably - just enough to cover the cost of framing, the gallery's commission and a small profit for herself. I've told her to be prepared - it might sell but to welcome this if it happens. It is further recognition - someone liked her work enough to buy it and will display it in their home.
And right now, as my thoughts focus on Christmas preparations and one more trip to the city to find a few more suitable gifts for my children, I'm going to suggest to my husband to bring home an old tyre from work. We will look for a tree with a sturdy branch in a clearing. I haven't mentioned this to my daughter - but I think she is going to love it!
With Love and Joy,