Moree artists take out 2018 Moree Portrait Prize

She won the inaugural Moree Portrait Prize People’s Choice award last year, and this year Moree artist Amy Canfield has done one better – taking out the Bank Art Museum Moree (BAMM) 2018 Moree Portrait Prize Grand Prize.

Flanked by a large group of friends who came to support her at the opening of the 2018 Moree Portrait Prize on Friday evening, Canfield was shocked to find out she had won the major gong for her hyper-realistic portrait Dreaming to meet you.

“I couldn’t believe it, it was a bit of a shock,” she said.

“It wasn’t what I planned for – I’d just finished it and then wanted to change this and that but I ran out of time, so thought ‘that’ll have to do, who knows what they're looking for anyway’.

“I was more confident in last year’s entry than I was with this one.

“But I had a great group of friends there, they made the whole experience so great. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to come and support me.”

Dreaming to meet you is a portrait of Canfield’s baby cousin Finley, who she is yet to meet. Canfield is planning a trip to England next year to meet Finley, and plans to use her $1,000 prize money to go towards her holiday.

“It’s a bit ironic, the money I got from him, I’m using to go see him,” Canfield laughed.

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The portrait was painted from a photo using oils on canvas in Canfield’s unique hyper-realistic style.

Moree Portrait Prize judge, and 2017 Grand Prize winner, Brenda Runnegar said it was a “beautifully executed work, well presented in a blue box frame. A happy moment captured”.

Canfield said this win, followed on from her success in last year’s Prize, has given her the confidence in her abilities as an artist to consider pursuing her art further.

“I’ve always just painted. I’ve never been able to see a future with art, but now I’ve come into these competitions, it’s becoming a reality,” she said. 

“I always thought there was not much money in it unless you know the right people or are really good at it, but [after the success of the past two years], I’ve realised this is something I could be doing for a career. It’s opened doors.”

Canfield wasn’t the only Moree artist to win in this year’s Moree Portrait Prize, with all four prizes presented at Friday’s opening going to locals.

The $500 Irri-Tek Local Artist Prize was awarded to Lucy Midgley for her portrait Of Mouse and Men.

“It says so much about the sitter. A sensitive work,” judge Brenda Runnegar said of the piece.

Jennifer Ryan’s portrait Tara – Trying on some feathers for the races received a highly commended – “Good use of humour and choice of bird” were the judge’s comments.

The $300 Moree Plains Shire Council under 18s prize went to Seth Birchall for his portrait Blind contour painting of my Mum, which Runnegar said had a “good use of colour and line”.

“Innovative work, which provides insight into his mum’s personality,” she said.

Under 18s highly commended went to Holly van Vegchal for her Untitled portrait, which had a “strong composition and excellent use of collage”.

Finally, Moree East Public School student Nardia Nicholls won the hotly-contested $200 Moree Plains Shire Council under 12s award for her Untitled self portrait.

“Good composition with inclusion of background design,” Runnegar said of Nardia’s work.

“Good use of colour, I love the expression on the face.”

Esther Litchfield received a highly commended in the under 12s for her portrait Circle of Butterflies, which Runnegar said was a “beautiful picture and face. Good title and composition”.

A total of 145 entries were submitted to this year’s Prize, up on last year’s 90 entries, which BAMM director Vivien Clyne said is fantastic.

As the Moree Portrait Prize aims to celebrate the work of local artists, Ms Clyne was thrilled to see Moree artists awarded in each category.

“It’s great to see such talent in town and that everyone’s having a go,” she said.

About 130 people attended last Friday’s exhibition opening.

The exhibition will run until Saturday, December 22, when the winner of the final prize, the $500 Rhodes Kildea People’s Choice award is announced.

Voting for the People’s Choice Prize will run until Thursday, December 20. People can only vote once each time they visit BAMM, so Ms Clyne encourages everyone to keep coming back to vote for their favourite.

BAMM is open 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 1pm Saturdays.