In 2016, Tasmanian artist Jane Giblin won the $15,000 major prize for her watercolour and mixed-media painting, Lilu Stands to Izzie. Her winning artwork was recognised by the judges for “the skill, boldness of subject and emotional power.”
As an artist based in Tasmania, what motivated you to enter the Blacktown City Art Prize?
There were two reasons for my entry.
The first was simply to enter competitions around Australia because it helps one’s CV and helps exhibit one’s work where it might normally never be seen. It feels good to have new audiences. My work is not attractive, aesthetically appealing and it sells poorly. Approval by distant audiences can be uplifting. No matter how many times one tells oneself to follow one’s heart, approval still feels rather nice, deep down.
Secondly, Blacktown is a peripheral place – a place where community is vital and cross-cultural awareness and activities are strong and enrich the community. I have succeeded in the Cossack Award in Karratha, Western Australia and the Outback Award in Broken Hill too. My work is in their collections. Imagine that! I love that feeling!
My work deals with the core of the animal nature in us all, which is often concealed and avoided. I find these truths are often, interestingly, more acceptable beyond the central city zone. Life and death are much more visible beyond the suburbs.
As an artist working far from Blacktown, how did you find the logistics of applying for the Prize, and then transporting the work to Blacktown after being announced as a finalist?
This was not so hard, actually. I used a local delivery firm, with local staff who usually care for my work. In addition, the staff [at Blacktown Arts] are cheerful and really helpful with all of the logistical arrangements as required.
After winning the 2016 Blacktown City Art Prize, how did the recognition and funds assist with your professional development as an artist?
Oh gosh… it paid for an outstanding framing bill and outstanding materials bill. It also provided funds for my next big load of paper and pigment! Being professional about archival materials and my artwork does cost a substantial amount.
I also felt some degree of impetus to apply, successfully, for Regional Arts and Arts Tasmanian funding for my current 3-year project about Flinders Island titled I Shed My Skin, A Furneaux Islands Story.
It also provided cause for publicity and celebration across social media platforms. My little name has started to scratch across our Bass Strait.
Do you have any advice for artists who are thinking of entering the 2018 Blacktown City Art Prize?
Entering prizes around Australia helps to strengthen resilience as an artist. Rejection, the most common response, is well worth it for the few acceptances and occasional awards. I was rejected for many years, and sometimes, when one’s hopes are high, it can really hurt! I have had to just sigh a little, laugh it off, and move on! It is not really personal. I know I must build better works, build my skills, strengthen my concepts and just keep working. My best work is always ahead of me.
I have raised two children alone, have been teaching in a state school full time for three decades, and have never stopped working at my practice. It is life. Receiving the Blacktown City Art Prize, by a community and judges who knew nothing about me at all was a reward and a deep honour.