A stunning sculpture designed to reflect the birdlife of the Maranoa region has claimed the top award at the opening of the 2022 Sculptures Out Back Exhibition in Roma on the weekend.
Brisbane based artist Gabe Parker was awarded the $20,000 Origin/APLNG Acquisitive Open Prize for his sculpture titled Aves #4.
The large outdoor sculpture is made from weathering steel, a structural grade steel that forms a fine layer of rust across its surface.
A delighted Mr Parker said the win was very unexpected.
"I appreciated it very much because it was so different from the other pieces in the exhibition and I was very pleased the Roma public and the judges accepted it," he said.
Mr Parker describes himself as an emerging artist and said he'd already recommended to other artists that they consider entering in 2023.
"I haven't had a solo exhibition yet so this type of exhibition is really wonderful for artists like me - there is a financial incentive and it's great exposure and you get an opportunity to have your piece out in a public gallery," he said.
"Aves means bird and this piece is part of a series I have done that are inspired by birds. I am not from the country so I don't have a cattle farmer or horse breeding background so it would have been unusual for me to tap into something like that.
"But birds are part of everyone's natural world so I thought it was a great fit for this exhibition."
The Maranoa Regional Council Acquisitive Local Prize, valued at $10,000, was awarded to Roma's Rustiest Bottle Tree by Roma artist Daniel Ferry.
Mr Ferry's piece was extremely popular with guests at the opening, particularly Roma locals where an avenue of bottle trees line the main streets to commemorate local men killed in WW1.
Both Mr Ferry's Bottle Tree and Mr Parker's Aves #4 will now stay permanently on display in Roma.
Also picking up a major prize was Lachlin Iland who won $5000 when he was named the Hall Chadwick Emerging Artist Prize for his beautiful piece titled Emu.
To date, Mr Iland has only created sculptures for his mother's garden and Sculptures Out Back was his first step in showing his work.
Another very popular entry was Many Miles by Mitchell artist Kylie Mansfield. This large sculpture of a race horse and jockey included over 400 horseshoes and took the artist more than 150 hours to complete. Mr Mansfield was awarded the $2000 Roma on Bungil Gallery People's Choice Prize.
The Roma Wire and Steel Acquisitive Garden Seat Prize was awarded to local artist Rob Buckland.
Valued at $2000, the award will also see Mr Buckland's Seat of Knowledge stay permanently on display.
A total of 20 sculptures were appraised by a panel of three judges, pastoralist, philanthropist and current President of the Queensland Art Gallery Tim Fairfax OA, award-winning Queensland sculpture artist Cameron Eaton and local Origin Energy representative Matt Harland.
Speaking during the opening on Saturday, the judges said they had an extremely difficult task in separating the entries.
"We were very impressed by the diversity of the pieces and the level of skills required to undertake this type of work," Mr Eaton said.
The Sculptures Out Back committee acknowledge the generous support of all sponsors who made the 2022 competition and exhibition posible, particularly the major sponsors, Origin Energy and the Maranoa Regional Council.
"Origin/APLNG are proud to be a major sponsor for Sculptures Out Back 2022, supporting world class talent and helping showcase a vibrant, exciting Maranoa," said Origin/APLNG External Affairs Manager, Toni Dugdale.
The Roma NAB and Roma Explorers Inn also sponsored the opening night of the exhibition which was attended by a large crowd.
Situated on the banks of the Bungil Creek on the eastern approach to Roma, the Sculptures Out Back Exhibition will remain on display until October 22, 2022.
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