By Greg Chapman
Iranian-Australian visual artist Niloufar Lovegrove has highlighted the training she received at CQUniversity TAFE after recently winning Rockhampton Regional Council’s prestigious art prize, The Bayton Award.
Her work, Resonance of Freedom is a sculpture about the ongoing Iranian protests over women’s rights.
The work was chosen from 44 entries created by 39 artists residing in the Central Queensland region by judge Hamish Sawyer, a curator, writer, and Acting Director for NorthSite in Gimuy/Cairns.
Niloufar was named as the winner at a ceremony at the Rockhampton Museum of Art recently.
"My entry for the Bayton Award was more than just a submission for an art prize; it carried a deeper significance than simply adding another line to my resume,” she said.
“The Bayton Award, which is open to artists from Central Queensland, provided me the opportunity to represent a part of the world that is far from here.
“I believed that I might be the only Iranian entrant in this prestigious competition, and I hoped to pay tribute to the bravery of women after the Mahsa Amini uprising in Iran. In larger cities, there were weekly rallies in support of the ‘women, life, freedom’ movement, but this was not the case in smaller regional cities like ours.”
Niloufar’s winning artwork is a papier-mâché representation of the 'sitar', a popular Iranian musical instrument. She used synthetic hair to create its strings, forming them into a braid upon which the instrument rests.
“Iranian women have exhibited tremendous bravery by defying the requirement to cover their hair and have paid heavy prices,” she said.
“I was delighted when my work was selected, and it filled me with an immense sense of pride that it was chosen as the winner, for its artistic and conceptual merits, by the esteemed judge, Hamish Sawyer.
“Being able to share a story from a troubled part of the world in this serene and beautiful region, and having it not only heard but also embraced, is a testament to people's empathy. In the end, people only need their basic human rights and peace."
Judge Hamish Sawyer said Niloufar’s work was “a potent symbol of artistic freedom and self-expression, the decorated sitar, delicately balanced on a ponytail speaks to the oppression of women in Iran, and around the world. Its elegantly precarious form acts as a powerful reminder of female resistance, hope, and solidarity.”
The Bayton Award began in 2021 and is an art prize named in honour of The Right Reverend John Bayton who was the Chair of Rockhampton Art Gallery’s Art Acquisition Fund in 1975.
Niloufar said CQU’s Visual Arts training had greatly benefitted her artistic practice.
“My teacher, Patrick Connor, possesses extensive knowledge of art practice in general, particularly in print-making. His expertise, alongside his passion and ability to share his knowledge with the group, was truly invaluable,” she said.
“I believe that Pat was an outstanding tutor who offered all of this with great passion, and his support extended beyond the classroom walls and into the years to come.
“I must also mention that the facilities at CQU were well-equipped, and the large studio was a beautiful space to work in.”
Niloufar also recently won the acclaimed Burnie Print Prize.
She currently has a lino print on display at the Gladstone Regional Gallery and Museum for the Martin Hanson Award, which will open on October 21.
Additionally, Niloufar will have a solo exhibition, "Too Little, Too Much” on display at Gladstone, running in April 2024.
The Bayton Award 2023 Finalist Exhibition will be on display until November 26 at the Rockhampton Museum of Art. Artworks will be for sale. Entry is free and more information is available at www.rmoa.com.au.
To learn more about Niloufar’s art visit https://www.niloufarprintmaker.com/.