An initially intended painting of fresh flowers that left Australian visual artist Byron Copland dissatisfied has won the 2022 Kennedy Prize for its inherent and thought-provoking take on beauty.
The celebrated national visual art competition, which called for entries under the theme of Beauty has attracted a record-breaking number of entries this year from Australia’s finest artists for the $25,000 prize.
Wollongong based visual artist Byron Copland, who has a passion for nature and the environment, created the award-winning artwork – Ageing Still Life Diptych – using oils on wood panel – which was announced at the Kennedy Prize Exhibition Launch on Friday night at the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts.
“Painting means so much to me, to have my work appreciated by the Kennedy Prize community is an amazing feeling. To be awarded the 2022 prize is almost overwhelming, it’s an honour,” said Copland.
For Copland the inspiration for the work evolved naturally and almost unintentionally after revisiting disregarded flowers and discovering a natural beauty that drew him to dig deeper and paint not one, but two panels.
“The flowers presented the kinds of colour harmonies inherent in nature, the one’s you can’t argue with. The soft petals had become brittle, presenting angular shapes and wrinkled edges beckoning a painter to explore this interesting display of texture and light,” he said.
“I knew I had a painting, which quickly turned to my next thought, could I have another? For me the answer came with the water in the vase, once cloudy yellow now a deep red.”
“A larger story started to emerge, one that plays with the themes of life and death, the different stages in one’s life and the inherent beauty to each,” said Copland.
According to Kennedy Prize coordinator, Mark Kennedy, the record-breaking response to the 2022 prize is a great testament to the legacy of his late father, Robert.
“The growing number of Australia’s finest artists taking part with their diverse expressions of beauty is testament to my father’s commitment and passion for the visual arts,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy Prize Judge Terry MacDermot said that Copland’s work shone through its alternative interpretation of the theme.
“Intimate and thoughtfully composed, this diptych shows beauty in the mundane capturing the various stages of decay in order to define beauty,” said MacDermot.
The launch event also saw the announcement of the new Margaret Nyland Photography Award which will award one of Australia’s finest photographers with a $5,000 prize. The prize will come into effect as part of the 2023 Kennedy Prize. The Honourable Justice Margaret Nyland is a committee member of the Kennedy Foundation.
50 finalists, including Copland’s winning artwork, are on display at the Kennedy Prize Exhibition in the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts at the State Library until Sunday 25 September 2022. For more information, visit: www.kennedyprize.com.au for details.
Image: Ageing Still Life Diptych by Byron Copland (supplied)