Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship Awards
I attended the Brett Whiteley travelling art scholarship awards at the Whitley Studios and am pleased to report that the winner is Mitch Cairns, 28, from Balmain, Sydney, for his body of work, highlighted by One half of a woman’s waistline repeated 2012 and Poor Mum 2012.
This scholarship for young Australian painters is now in its 14th year. Ninety-five entries were received from around Australia and eleven were selected as finalists. A small selection of the finalists is on display at the Whiteley Studio, 2 Raper Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, until 25 November (except 24 September – 12 October). Mitch gave a very very short speech in which he thanked his mother and girlfriend but failed to thank any of the people responsible for the award.
Mitch Cairns won the Gruner Landscape Prize in 2003 and featured in the Salon de Refuses in 2004 whilst a student at the National Art School from which he graduated in 2006 with honours.
This year’s judges were artist Del Kathryn Barton and the Gallery’s head of Australian art, Wayne Tunnicliffe. Commenting on the work of Mitch Cairns, Del Kathryn Barton said Mitch’s curious, lyrical, figurative works are not only compelling visually, they reveal developed skill-sets vital to the mad adventure of making paintings! The sensitivity of surface, composition and of paint within these works reflect a disciplined and conceptually passionate practice.
I finally got some pictures of the winner after another photographer took an inordinate amount of time taking his pictures. I asked him how long he would be and an elderly lady journalist (about my age) said “we’re from The Telegraph you know”. I replied, “didn’t think they had any journalists left”. Don’t think she got the joke, guess it really wasn’t funny. Anyhow a visit to the Whitely Gallery is always worth the trip. John Pond