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  • Baroque-inspired masterpiece wins top prize at UniSQ Biennial Art Award

Baroque-inspired masterpiece wins top prize at UniSQ Biennial Art Award

Two women smiling in front of a colorful abstract painting in an art gallery.
UniSQ Vice-Chancellor and Judging Panel Chair Professor Geraldine Mackenzie (left) with Biennial Art Award Overall Winner Gabrielle Jones.

A painting inspired by the Baroque period and its “drama, movement and storytelling” has taken out the Overall Winner Award at the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) inaugural Biennial Art Award.

The artwork, titled Disordered Dream, was painted by Sunshine Coast artist Gabrielle Jones, who said she was “totally shocked” to receive the Major Award in the competition’s inaugural year.

“Walking up to receive the Award, it hit me, and I was suddenly overwhelmed and incredibly relieved; I felt justified in pursuing this difficult career,” Ms Jones said.

Ms Jones said she even shed a tear (or several) when accepting the Award for Disordered Dream, which uses patterns and forms iconic to the Baroque period and speaks to “the call and answer between then and now, and the emotion and struggle of the painting process”.

“To know this piece will go on to be displayed as part of the University Art Collection is very humbling and a huge honour,” she said.

“As an artist, I think it’s very important to have that chance of challenging, influencing or inspiring the next generation of artists through teaching, displaying, and enlarging the University’s collection. It’s a real privilege to be part of that.

“I really want to thank the judges for seeing something special in my work; it is truly amazing to have such a boost after 20 years of persistence and determination in the art prize sphere.”

In their comments, the judging panel said Ms Jones’ Disordered Dream “captivated them from their first step into the Gallery, with her bold brush strokes, mark making and compositional prowess”.

The Biennial Art Award judging panel included Vice-Chancellor and Judging Panel Chair Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, School of Creative Arts Head of School and Dean Associate Professor Kyle Jenkins, Curator (Arts and Exhibitions) Brodie Taylor, and guest judge Toowoomba Regional Council Regional Coordinator Art Galleries and Cultural Services Sue Lostroh.

The Award celebrates 50 years of teaching Creative Arts at the university, having been established in 1974 at the former Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education and continuing ever since.

Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said the university had a strong commitment to the arts, particularly in the regions, and this award was a clear demonstration of that.

“The Biennial Art Award is a celebration of contemporary art from all over Australia, and it was wonderful to have 645 entries from more than 300 Australian artists in its inaugural year,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“The range of talent was extraordinary – we had entries from established artists with decades of experience, many at a national and international level, right through to our very own University of Southern Queensland visual arts students who brought a strong conceptual underpinning to their work.”

The UniSQ Biennial Art Award exhibition will run until Friday, May 17, 2024 in the B Block Art Gallery at UniSQ Toowoomba campus.

Read the full list of winners from the 2024 Biennial Art Award.