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Digital photo of shipwreck wins major prize as 2020 CQU Creates Art Awards goes online

Published:03 September 2020

Winners of the 2020 CQU Creates Art Awards have been announced. Top: CQU Mackay staff member Bill Jewell won the overall CQU Creates Art Award, with his digital photograph, 'SS Maheno' Wreck. Middle: Indigenous Art Award winner Llewellyn Swallow with her painting 'Night Herons' and Bottom: Current Student Art Award winner, Gabrielle Rooney, with her painting, 'Changing Seasons'.

A stunning enhanced photograph of a shipwreck titled ‘SS Maheno’ Wreck, by first-time digital artist and CQU Mackay staff member Bill Jewell, has taken out the major prize in the 2020 CQU Creates Art Awards.

Two other major prizes were also awarded – the Current Student Art Award, which went to CQU Rockhampton Bachelor of Education (Secondary) student Gabrielle Rooney, for her oil painting, Changing Seasons and Bundaberg artist Llewellyn Swallow who won the Indigenous Art Award, with her acrylic on canvas painting, titled, Night Herons.

Although COVID-19 pandemic restrictions meant there was no formal ceremony and exhibition this year, the 2020 CQU Creates Awards were celebrated online, with Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp and CQU Art Collection Manager Sue Smith announcing the awards in a specially-made video.

A record 69 works by 85 current and past students and staff were received for this year’s awards and in addition to the three major awards, judge Cameron Curd, Manager of Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum, also awarded eight artists with Highly Commended awards.

Major prize winner, Bill, works as a campus assistant, and first aid officer at CQU’s Mackay City and Ooralea campuses and said he was “over the moon” about his win.

“I’m gobsmacked, really,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve ever won anything, or entered a competition.”

His photo of the wreck ‘SS Maheno’ was taken on a visit to Fraser Island late last year. It was combined with a hinterland sunset photo and manipulated in Photoshop.

Bill has been working for CQU for a year after a 40-year career in paramilitary circles, working for two state police forces, St John Ambulance and a stint as a volunteer paramedic in remote northern Australia.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic inspired him to take up digital photography and Photoshop.

“It’s something I’ve only just started learning. I’m totally just an amateur at it, but Photoshop really is an amazing program.

“Since I’ve been using it, I’ve even picked up additional work making posters to be put up around the campus.”

Llewellyn Swallow, a proud Indigenous woman of the Kabi Kabi people, said she felt “overwhelmed” after winning the Indigenous Art Award category.

Her painting, Night Herons, tells the story of how a small tribe, threatened by neighbours, changed into herons and hid in swamps, hunting only at night.

“I think the painting on its own says something, but I always like to paint to a story, and share my culture,” she said.

Llewellyn praised the diversity of the works and artists in this year’s CQU Creates Art Awards and the efforts of Art Collection Manager Sue Smith.

“There were some really nice works and it was wonderful to see the diversity of both the artists and the artwork,” she said.

Current Student Art Award winner Gabrielle Rooney’s piece, Changing Seasons, is an impressionistic work inspired by autumn colours in eucalypt trees. Itrepresents change, serenity and new beginnings.

“I’m pretty impressed to have won,” she said. “I didn’t think I would win so I was very surprised.”

“I’ve been painting since I left school, four or five years ago but this is the first time I’ve entered a competition.

“I want to finish my degree and maybe look into doing fine arts – art is a passion and I want to keep at it.”

All prizes are non-acquisitive and the categories are the CQU Creates 2020 Art Award of $500, the CQU Creates 2020 Indigenous Art Award of $500, the CQU Creates 2020 Current Student Award of $500 and the CQU Creates 2020 Highly Commended Awards (up to eight prizes) of $250.

To watch the video presentation of the 2020 CQU Creates Art Awards and to view the online catalogue click HERE