Announcement of the 2020 Glover Art Prize winner

Hobart-based artist, Robert O'Connor wins the 2020 Glover Art Prize for his entry entitled Somewhere on the midlands.

O’Connor’s paintings are known to question ideas of authorship and originality in art with direct references to image reproduction. Of his work, he says: ‘Armed with the postmodern trends of appropriation, pastiche and ironic estrangement, the works question ideas of originality and authorship while remaining engaged with painting traditions. Much as a magpie collects shiny things or a catfish eats shit, I collect images. Well, perhaps I don’t collect them as much as they are thrown at me, along with opinions, every day and mostly unsolicited. What I do is organise images in a way that I think makes sense, which in reality results in a mess of borrowed imagery that makes no immediate sense whatsoever.’

O’Connor winning work explores European settlement in Tasmania, with his statement on the piece reading: ‘Things were going pretty good. Then Europeans arrive, erect fences and place foreign livestock on the land; now we’re cooked. I can hardly see the landscape with all of this stuff in the way.’

Glover Prize 2020 Winner: Robert O’Connor with his winning piece, Somewhere on the midlands

This year’s judges – Chris Saines, Jarrod Rawlins and Fiona Lowry – stated that:

‘We had heard Robert O’Connor described as a – ‘Cartographer, archaeologist, explorer, scavenger, and sociologist’, and would agree that he is all those things, as well as a skilled painter. O’Connor’s painting – Somewhere on the midlands – is at first a humorous and poetic look at our colonial past and the impact that had on the pre-European landscape, as well as a deliberate prod to issues such as deforestation and revegetation. There are great absurdist qualities in Robert’s winning painting, harking back to a wonderful period of 20th-century art which included the surrealist movement. A period when social and political issues of the time were addressed by artist though the use of witty humour and wry commentary, while never letting go of their deep sense of social responsibility. Here Robert has placed a handsome rack of lamb with mash and peas, (and let’s not forget the gravy) and made it centre stage of a landscape painting of an area fondly known as ‘the midlands’. O’Connor has made what can only be described as an ironical bucolic landscape imbued with a darkly comical commentary on the impact of European settlement on this landscape. It is not a didactic moralising painting pointing at people, rather an image of an important topical discussion being had all over the country.

O’Connor has won $50,000 and a bronze maquette of colonial artist John Glover, after whom the Glover Prize is named.

Two finalists were also Highly Commended by the judges – Ileigh Hellier for her piece Without the other and Laura Patterson, for her piece 2020 Pteridomania

Each year, visitors to the finalists’ exhibition are given a chance to choose their favourite artworks by voting in the People’s Choice and Children’s Choice Awards. Drawn on Sunday 15 March, the winners will receive $3,000 and $500, respectively. And, The Hanger’s Choice Award goes to Veronica O’Leary for her entry, Our land is burning – Tasmania Fires 2019.

The 2020 Glover Art Prize Exhibition runs from 7 to 15 March at the historic Falls Park Pavilion in Evandale, Tasmania.

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