Pilbara rising star wins Cossack Art Awards

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Spinifex Hill Studio manager Maddie Sharrock, representing overall winner Gloria, in front of the winning artwork with City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long and judges Sam Leach, Jane King and Stormie Mills.
Camera IconSpinifex Hill Studio manager Maddie Sharrock, representing overall winner Gloria, in front of the winning artwork with City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long and judges Sam Leach, Jane King and Stormie Mills. Credit: Pilbara Site Pics

The bare stone walls of a Pilbara ghost town were transformed into mosaics of colour and texture when one of the region’s biggest annual arts events opened on Saturday night.

The launch of the 27th Cossack Art Awards drew a large crowd to the usually empty town to admire almost 300 works submitted by artists from across Australia.

The award night’s biggest winner was South Hedland artist Gloria, of Spinifex Hill Studio, who won the $15,000 prize for overall best artwork with her painting Untitled.

The judges described Gloria’s work as “a painterly and abstract piece that feels traditional, but in a western way”.

Spinifex Hill Studio manager Maddie Sharrock, representing Gloria, in front of her overall award-winning work at the Cossack Art Awards.
Camera IconSpinifex Hill Studio manager Maddie Sharrock, representing Gloria, in front of her overall award-winning work at the Cossack Art Awards. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Spinifex Hill Studio manager Maddie Sharrock accepted the award on her behalf.

“It’s a special technique that not just anyone can master, wet-on-wet painting and getting that blending of colour and movement,” she said.

“It’s a very special work — we knew when she did it that it was going to win something, we just didn’t know what it was.

“She’s only been painting a short time at Spinifex Hill Studio, but her career has shot up and she’s definitely someone to be watching out for.”

Pilbara artists dominated the awards this year with Eileen Tinker, Tanya Montgomery, Justina Willis, Nicholas Werrett, Maggie Green and Carrie McDowell also winning their categories.

Tanya Montgomery with her artwork Dampier. Right, Carrie McDowell.
Camera IconTanya Montgomery with her artwork Dampier. Right, Carrie McDowell. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

Montgomery, a Dampier artist who was the 2018 Cossack artist in residence, said the annual awards presented a good creative challenge for artists.

“Cossack pushes us to really do our best work, and I think that’s what my piece this year is for me — it is the biggest perhaps in scale that I’ve done, and has pushed me to pursue this mark-making technique,” she said.

“It’s competitive, and this is probably the best show that I’ve seen out of Cossack from previous years.

“The quality and the entries in all the categories continue to improve, and it’s really exciting.”

Carrie McDowell with her artwork Blue Death.
Camera IconCarrie McDowell with her artwork Blue Death. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the awards were the highlight of the City’s events calendar and gained prominence each year.

“It’s set in this ghost town which has got beautiful buildings, it’s located on the sea, it has an enormous amount of history and it’s in this fantastic Pilbara region which visitors don’t know much about but is just so dramatic,” he said

“I think from all those points of view it’s really unusual.”

The people’s choice award winner will be announced in coming months.

The Cossack Art Awards exhibition is open from 10am-3pm daily until August 11.

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