Popular local artist takes out top prize at Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards

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Geoffrey Head, overall winner of The Awards with his piece 'Wetland'

Popular local artist takes out top prize at Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards

A local arts educator with more than 40 years' experience in Gladstone has taken out the top prize at The 47th Rio Tinto & QAL Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards held at Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum (GRAGM) on Saturday 22 October.

Geoffrey Head was named as overall winner of The Awards for his piece Wetland, taking out the top prize of $15,000.

“It's such a surprise”, Geoffrey said.

“I've been entering this competition for some 30-plus years and it's just wonderful to have finally nailed it.

“It is very rewarding having worked all these years to produce something good enough that will be appreciated by a judge.”

Eighteen Awards were presented in total on the night, with many going to local artists.

The 2022 Awards saw 264 entries submitted, an increase of 82 from last year – Easel Works the most popular Section with 122 entries, 48 entries were accepted for The Works on Paper Section, 52 for Three Dimensional & Fibre Works, and 42 for Digital Works.

Geoffrey’s winning piece was inspired by the landscape on the northern outskirts of Gladstone.

“This piece is influenced by the tract of land on the left as you're leaving Gladstone to head towards Rockhampton,” he said.

“Before the Orica turn off there's a swamp with a whole lot of tea tree and brackish water and there's a whole lot of clumps of grass there.

“I notice that each time we leave town you try not to look at the industry, you look the other way, so this is what [Wetland] is all about.

Judge of The 47th Rio Tinto & QAL Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards, Karina Devine, said Wetland caught her eye from very early in the judging process.

“The winning piece was something that called out to me the first time I saw it,” Karina said.

“I didn't decide it was the overall winner straight away, I remember seeing it for the first time and it really does draw you in because it's so different, it's so alive, it's almost like it's moving.”

Karina said the judging process took her several hours to complete.

“It involves a lot of looking and continually returning back to pieces to have another look,” she said.

Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett was excited to see so many locals enter The 47th Rio Tinto & QAL Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards, with entries from the region accounting for over half of the final count.

“It’s fantastic that a local artist has won, and Geoffrey Head is a very well-known Gladstone artist,” Councillor Burnett said.

“His sister, Susan, won the Works on Paper Section.

“It was wonderful to see our locals do really well this year, and I’m encouraging everyone around Central Queensland to get involved next year”.

The QAL People’s Choice Awards Voting is now open and closes at 2pm on Saturday, 21 January 2023.

Voting is simple:

  • Visit GRAGM before 2pm Saturday, 21 January 2023
  • Scan the QR Code
  • Enter your details
  • Choose your favourite in each section.

The QAL People’s Choice Awards Winners win $500 each.