LESA Hepburn’s Ghost Net/Jaring Hantu, created by raranga (a traditional form of plaiting using fingers), and fixed to a stretched canvas, was declared the supreme winner at the ILT Art Awards on Friday.
Ghost nets were fishing nets which had been disposed of in the ocean. These, sometimes massive, nets could cause environmental damage including killing dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, seabirds and other creatures.
Awards co-ordinator Gayle Clearwater, who had two pieces of her own work displayed, said the judges, artists Janet de Wagt and Charlotte Parallel, described Ghost Net as a piece which “followed you around as you walked the room”.
“It is about fishing gear which is lost at sea… it is the artist’s statement about raising environment awareness around this topic,” she said.
Awards supervising co-ordinator Kathryn McCully said the response to the awards this year was “outstanding”, with 91 submitted works.
“One of the positives of the awards was the diversity of artworks from professional artists to secondary school students, as well as amateur and up-and-coming artists.
“It was pure luck we were at [Alert] Level 1… it was a very big awards night… a great opportunity for members of the arts community to get together and celebrate, especially after all the Covid setbacks.”
Funding for this year’s awards had also been compromised due to the economic downturn created by the pandemic, McCully said.
So, she was relieved to have support from various funders such as Community Trust South, ILT, Southern Institute of Technology and the Southland Art Society, as well as the many volunteers and artists who had helped with staffing the exhibition, she said.
Hepburn won $6000 as the supreme winner.
Born in Malaysia, where she spent much of her childhood, Hepburn moved to Australia where she was a professional artist since graduating with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Queensland College of Art in 1987.
As an artist, she worked with handmade paper and natural plant fibres, focusing on sustainable arts practice, by using natural and recycled materials, and low-impact processes.
In Invercargill, she had continued to craft her art by learning from teachers and other artists, including whaea (teacher) Wini Solomon, and was continuing to learn more about local plants, fibres and her environment to ensure her work remained “sustainable and culturally respectful”.
The awards were open nationwide.
Karen Scott placed second with her acrylic From the Ski Club towards Fairlight while Victoria Morgan, with her audio, Time to Read, was third.
Judges Choice was Bethany Hayes for her 3-D print/poster Bold Wind and Sam Chandler for her photograph Wild Ancestors.
The Community Trust South Year 11-13 Award (Southland only) went to Quinn Andrews (18), of Central Southland College, Winton, for his woodcut print with yellow acrylic paint, Foundations.
The Southland Resident Award (Southland only) went to Jenny McNamara for her acrylic on canvas, Kia Kaha.
- The exhibition was open at the RAW Gallery, Don St, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, and Saturdays, 11am-3pm, until Friday, October 23.