2019 Summer Exhibition

Judge – Ron Esplin


Thanks to the President, Doug Hart, the Committee, staff and Members of the OAS, Artists and guests

I was talking to Andy Cook on Tuesday when we were recording the Radio Show that we jointly host, the Arty Farty Show that airs on Otago Access Radio, and he told me that over twenty years ago, my father Tom judged an Otago Art Society exhibition where he announced to an expectant audience who were waiting to hear words of praise but instead heard him say, “None of you have done what you were asked to do!”
I guess there must have been a theme that had been ignored by all the participants. There are 215 works of art in the J W Smeaton Summer Exhibition, and I can announce that “everybody has done what you were asked to do”, and that is to create and display your artistic endeavours.
Everybody who has their work hung here tonight has produced their art as individuals, and as Edgar Degas said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”. Every one of you has exercised your creativity and originality, every one of you has displayed your knowledge of composition and design, and every one of you has utilised your craftsmanship and skill. And these are the three criteria that I applied to arrive at my decision on tonight’s winners, originality, composition, and craftsmanship.
May I remind you that the soon to be announced winners of these Awards did the same thing that all of you did, they persevered. Vincent Van Gogh persevered and produced more than 2000 works in his lifetime, he is now considered one of the greatest artists of all time, but he was undervalued and only sold one painting during his lifetime, and that was to his brother Theo. All of you artists in this exhibition have created artworks that will remain as your legacy, and may well outlive you. You can be satisfied that you are leaving your mark on the World.
I was talking to another Artist, Maurie Angelo, on Wednesday night and besides being a fine artist, he has been a keen fencer all of his adult life. He referred to fencing as “The conversation of the blades”, and we can look at art as the conversation of the brushes, or whatever tools you employ in your creative process.  Creating art is not about competition, but is for the enjoyment of the process and for the satisfaction of creating something that did not exist before.
I spent many pleasurable hours looking at and evaluating the works that are around you tonight, and the winners of the Awards were those pieces that began a conversation  with me, called me back for another look, and demanded my attention as I hope they will do for you.
Tonight there are four awards and four special mentions including an award for a three dimensional piece.

I will begin with a special mention of a three dimensional work.
It is an imaginative Mixed Media work, representing the environmental issues challenging our planet, “Clean and Green”, by Jerry Howlett.

I have three further special mentions.
Firstly, in no particular order an evocative  impressionistic acrylic that displays excellent style and technique. “View from Edwards Bay”, by Tony Shields.
For those who are curious about the location, Edwards Bay is between Broad Bay and Portobello.
A special mention goes to the beautifully understated and aptly titled acrylic “A smile in the crowd.” By J M Loughnan.
The final special mention goes to a stunning work of art that called out to me from every corner of this gallery space,  a piece of photography, “Reflecting at St. Bathans”, by Jenny Longstaff

Now to the Awards themselves which are cash prizes, First, second and third, and the third prize winner with a cash prize of $100 goes to a clever painting adopting an unusual elevated viewpoint of a domestic scene, Anne Baldock’s acrylic, “Home Invasion” .

The second prize of $200 goes to a dramatic oil painting displaying great skill and technique, “On approaching Wanaka”, by Philip Markham.

A deserving winner of the first prize of $400, for a detailed and skilful composition in acrylic goes to the beautiful “To dementia and friends” by Claire Te Au.

It only remains for me to congratulate everybody including the winners, and to thank the organizing committee, and if you make a sale do spare a thought for Vincent Van Gogh.

Ron Esplin

First Place

Claire Te Au, To Dementia and Friends

To Dementia and Friends, by Claire Te Au

Second Place

Phillip Markham, On Approaching Wanaka

On Approaching Wanaka, by Phillip Markham

Third Place

Anne Baldock, Home Invasion

Home Invasion, by Anne Baldock

Special Mentions

Hamish Cormack, Babel

Jerry Howlett, Clean and Green

Tony Shields, View from Edwards Bay

Jenny Longstaff, Reflecting at St Bathans – (Photography)

Jo Loughnan, A Smile in the Crowd