Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Brian Robinson, Sowing the Crops and Reading the Stars, 2018, enamel spray paint, liquitex paint marker. 152 x 122 cm

The exhibition opening and announcement of the 2018 Calleen Art Award winner took place at the Cowra Regional Art Gallery on Saturday night 5 May 2018, with over 110 visitors including many of the finalists in attendance. Guest speakers were Cr Ray Walsh, representing Cr Bill West, Mayor, Cowra Shire Council and the Award Judge Dr. Michael Hedger, Director, Manly Regional Art Gallery and Museum.

This year the Gallery received over 200 entries from around Australia and 46 works were selected as finalists including many mid career artists and exciting young emerging artistic talent.

Cairns-based artist Brian Robinson has taken out this year’s $20,000 Calleen Art Award for his work Sowing The Crops and Reading the Stars. The work is characteristic of Robinson’s graphic style and strongly informed by his background growing up on the Torres Strait Islands located between New Guinea and the tip of Cape York Peninsula.

In a statement accompanying the work, Robinson states that the painting references the traditional gardening practices that occurred throughout the Torres Strait as well as the abundant plant life and blooms that are found growing everywhere in profusion. Skill in gardening was and still is dependent on understanding the four seasons including knowledge of the movement of stars and constellations, tidal patterns, and the migration of birds and certain sea creatures.

Agricultural fertility also entails a respect for inherited ancestral land and knowledge of how to influence rainfall and the growth of plants through actions, words, songs and the use of figures and stones.

Cosmology, particularly star constellations were of significant importance to the people who used them to encode nature’s relative predictability into mythological narratives like Usiam, a cluster of seven stars that are more commonly known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. These narratives epitomise the cosmology or sense of understanding of one’s place in the universe.

Judges Comments

Winner: Calleen Art Award
Brian Robinson Sowing the Crops and Reading the Stars, 2018, enamel spray paint, liquitex paint marker. 152 x 122 cm

The Award Judge, Michael Hedger, Director Manly Art Gallery and Museum, said “the winner is an interesting picture with a wonderful patterning background and figure over the top as well as a blend of various Asian styles, showing the rendition of ancient crafts”.

Highly Commended Awards

Shannon Doyle, Power Struggle, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 120 cm

Judges comments: “The figure study I think is the best figure study in the exhibition even more so because you don’t even see the figure it’s all heavily clothed and an extraordinary painting is made out of using just tones, just grey”.

Geoff Harvey, Ash Landscape, 2017, acrylic and charcoal on board 123 x 153 cm. Judges comments: “Ash Landscape, is absolutely astonishing it has the whole tragedy of the landscape after a bushfire something which unfortunately never goes out of the news in Australia, he’s encapsulated that perfectly.”

During the evening guests were treated to the presentation of delightful music by an ensemble of young musicians from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The exhibition continues to 17 June 2018.

For more information Tel: 6340 2190. The Gallery is located at 77 Darling Street, Cowra and open from Tues–Sat, 10am–4pm and Sun 2pm–4pm. Admission is free.