Kyle Murrell and Willemina Villari | 2019 Defiance Award Winners

The Paddington Art Prize is a $30,000 national acquisitive prize, awarded annually for a painting inspired by the Australian landscape. It supports a subset of prize categories, including the Honourable Mention Prize, Highly Commended Prize, UNSW Art & Design Prize, People’s Choice Award and the Defiance Gallery Award & Residency. The last-mentioned awarded to finalists that are without gallery representation.

In 2019 Kyle Murrell and Willemina Villari were joint winners, selected by Defiance Gallery directors Lauren Harvey and Campbell Robertson-Swann. Murrell and Villari received an invitation to the Nock Art Foundation Residency in Queenstown, New Zealand; as well as studio visits and mentorship from Harvey and Robertson-Swann in the lead up to their shared show at Defiance Gallery Mary Place in Sydney this April, showcasing new works that highlight the developing practices of these artists.

Willemina Villari, Upside Down Sky, 2021, mixed media and collage on paper, 42 x 59cm. Courtesy the artist and Defiance Gallery Mary Place, Sydney

Creating two- and three-dimensional works, Willemina’s creative process is driven by the desire to explore the possibilities of working with various materials. Her works on paper and drawings in space are abstract observations of form, balance and colour, inspired by the natural environment she lives in, near the bush and the ocean and her travels to the Australian outback. Exploration is also key to Murrell’s practice: ‘I rely on drawing as a means of exploration and regeneration. It sustains my practice by playing multiple roles in my work; as a notion of ideas, as a working drawing and developing a sequence of thoughts. Through an inexhaustible and repetitious process, I deconstruct and obscure the subject to allow the rhythm of line and mark-making to activate and penetrate space. These experiential references create compositional and pictorial devices that inform my painting,’ states Murrell. ‘The dissolution and re-invention of forms resolves the contest between meaning and structure through their oscillation, fusion and sometimes juxtaposition.’

Kyle Murrell, Souvenir, 2021, oil on panel, 61 x 78cm. Courtesy the artist and Defiance Gallery Mary Place, Sydney

The 2019 Defiance Award and Nock Residency was supported by Artist Profile Magazine, Stephen Oxenbury Photography, Arteq, Pigment Lab, Art Van Go and Noyce Brothers Wine.

Defiance Gallery Mary Place
Art Month Preview: 3-7pm, Saturday 27 March
Exhibition: 31 March to 22 April 2021