Moreton Bay Region Art Prize - 2021 winners

First prize

"the original"

BJ Murphy
Artist statement: Living on Jinibara country, I spend many days walking the land and waterways that my ancestors walked for thousands of years before me. In connection with the country I belong to, I understand more deeply how my ancestors lived and piece together the stories handed down through family. Everywhere I walk I see the signs of my ancestors even within the dramatically changed landscape since colonisation. "the original'' began from a conversation I had with a park ranger who was walking with me one day. We saw the tree which has the old springboard grooves loggers used when they were logging our land back in the early 1800s. He referred to this tree as "an original". Recently whilst walking Country looking for scar trees (trees with long oval shaped scars left on them from the removal of bark used by my ancestors for canoes and carrying vessels) I saw this tree again. I was drawn to its scar shaped burn, recalling that the park ranger had called this tree "an original". I was inspired to step into the old lopped trees burnt out body and together with the tree create this artistic response.

Judge's note: A powerful image at a great size. Great use of light and contrast. I love the story and that it is both a portrait and a landscape.

Second prize

Michele behind her mask

Sarah Field
Artist statement:Sarah Field is an emerging artist based on the Redcliffe peninsula. She is at the beginning of her artistic career, picking up painting professionally for the first time in 2020. Sarah paints in watercolours and oils, focusing her practice on life, the natural world, and the human experience. This portrait is of Michele Wilson, a theatre nurse and nurse educator. It was painted during the first Covid-19 lockdown in Brisbane in 2020 to acknowledge the strength of our healthcare workers as they stared down the face of a pandemic which has changed our entire world.

Judge's note: A timely and important image that uses realism and the gaze to connect you with the humanity of the subject.

Third prize


Jayda Bruce
Artist statement: My two passions in life are animals and art. Creating artworks of wildlife is my way of reconnecting with nature. It also gives me a chance to help spread awareness of the struggle our wildlife face, especially from climate change. There is a beauty in nature that people often take for granted and I try to express this beauty in my artwork. I enjoy creating works on paper as the medium itself is fragile just like our ecosystem. It takes time and patience to cut out each individual piece. I become immersed in my art and forget about all other worries.' Chaos was inspired by the 2019 bushfires that devastated much of Australia's landscape and wildlife. The koala population experienced a dramatic decline as a result of these fires. Chaos is a representation of the devastation our wildlife has faced over the years, especially with the rising threat of climate change and deforestation. The fight is not over as the desperate ghostly koala reaches out for help signalling a call for change. The paper is also a reminder of how delicate this human wildlife conflict is.

Judge's comments: An intricate and fragile works that reflects the current situation for our koala population. The juxtaposition of the solid frame heightens this message.

People's choice award


Joel Vanderduys
Artist statement: I'm a 21-year-old artist who grew up in Papua New Guinea. I tried to paint this elder's character to help the viewer feel an emotional connection and understand the journey of life that my subject has taken. This man is from a small village in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Try to imagine the stories he has. This painting is an attempt to capture his character and soul; his life in a single image.