Australia’s most prestigious landscape art prize, the Glover Prize, has been won by Jamberoo’s Halinka Orszulok.
Orszulok’s work, titled ‘Ponies’, depicts a whimsical vista of the Cataract Gorge at night replete with the juxtaposition of a landscape in darkness and resting children’s play ponies casting ominously long shadows in the artificial light.
Orszulok is a first-time entrant of the Glover Prize. She has won $50,000 and a bronze maquette of colonial artist, John Glover, after whom the Glover Prize is named.
Speaking about her winning artwork, Ms Orszulok said ‘Ponies’ represented night-time environments that are contradictory, ambiguous, and often unacknowledged; like the unhomely home or landscape that belongs to neither nature nor culture.
“The inspiration for the painting is the playground at the Cataract Gorge in Launceston; an intersection of nature, culture, and history,” Ms Orszulok said.
“A natural playground, it echoes romantic ideas about the role of nature and the sublime; and represents a counterpoint to the ills of modern society.
“It could be said that the complexities of our human-centric and historically entrenched relationship to the natural world are in some way expressed here, and mirror tensions found in the greater landscape of Tasmania.
Ms Orszulok said she was interested in visiting and painting the location as it fulfilled important criteria for her.
“It is a landscape with strong, moody, artificial-light which causes the world to fall into stark contrast, and contains complex, interwoven layers of signification,” she said.
“I found the pretty plastic ponies riding through the verdant Tasmanian forest a particularly evocative image - an introduced species evoking the invasion of this island. They are also symbols with a strong pull on the subconscious.
“There is a dream-like quality to the image. I have dreamt of riding horses through both familiar and unexpected environments. To me, the ponies represent power, freedom, and escape. The image represents a moment in an open-ended story where the viewer must arrive at their own meaning.”
Speaking on behalf of the three independent judges, Mr Tony Stephens said the judges arrived at a unanimous decision in choosing Halinka Orszulok’s winning painting, ‘Ponies’, for the 15th Glover Prize.
“The painting stands out as it is more of a psychological landscape rather than a literal interpretation of the land and the ambiguity of the scene is thought-provoking. Humans are absent from this public space as it is depicted as a night-time reflection,” Mr Stephens said.
“Technically it is extremely well executed, the chiaroscuro effect gives the work a cinematic effect and hints at possible drama on an otherwise innocent park land. This extends the narrative of the landscape, giving it greater depth and intrigue.”