Armidale based artist Leah Bullen has been announced as the winner of the 2021 Stanthorpe Art Prize. After a long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Stanthorpe Art Prize winners were announced at a gala opening on Friday 19 February, and were opened by Philip Bacon AM.

Congratulations to Leah Bullen for winning first prize, with her watercolour, Memoryscape (Garden with sunflowers and pencil pines). Ms Bullen was awarded the $22,000 Best in Show as well as the $3500 2D Painting/Drawing category.

Leah Bullen completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) and a Doctor of Philosophy Creative Arts from the School of Art & Design at the Australian National University. In 2016, she was the winner of the Trustees’ Watercolour Prize as part of the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Leah says, “I started this work of a garden before the hardest part of the drought. For me gardens and gardening have always been a place and an activity centred around family, the beauty of nature and tranquillity. Memoryscape has gained a new currency over this challenging summer. It is a landscape of personal memories, daydreams and nostalgia — a landscape of ecological grief.”

The judges, Simon Wright (QAGOMA) and Rachael Parsons (New England Regional Art Museum) agreed that the decision to award Leah first prize was the easiest choice in the awards. The judges highlighted Leah’s accomplishment in a tricky and unforgiving medium. Mr Wright said “I can smell that scene. It’s like comfort food.” Ms Parsons commented on the outstanding quality of the beauty, texture, depth and colour in the work, balanced with the conceptual and technical vigour.

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