THE WINNER of the inaugural Wilson Visual Arts Award, Karla Marchesi, was not at Trinity Catholic College in Lismore to receive her prize last Friday night.
The 28-year-old is currently on a scholarship, undertaking a six-month studio residency at Atelierhaus Mengerzeile in Berlin, Germany.
Her painting, More Than Ever, is one of many exquisite layered oil paintings the Brisbane artist has created in the past few years, showing the jumble and detritus of modern life.
Karla has had a stellar career since graduating with first class honours - and the university medal - from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, in 2007. She has held several solo exhibitions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney as well as featuring in group exhibitions in Australia and, last year, in Korea.
"More Than Ever may not be the prettiest work," said judge Peter McKay of the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art when he announced the winner.
"It's actually very challenging, showing an accumulation of material possessions that make us consider our priorities and what is special to us."
Mr McKay told the audience gathered at the opening that this, the first Wilson Visual Art exhibition, was "as good a show as any I've seen in decades".
He commended Trinity and the committee who organised the exhibition, admitting he had not previously visited Lismore and had been unprepared for the beauty of the region and the great community he discovered here.
Two photographs, by Annie Wang and Svetlana Bailey, and paintings by Byron artist James Guppy all received a highly commended award.
The winner of the People's Choice award was announced last Saturday, with the $1500 prize donated by Lismore artist Katka Adams, awarded to Brigid Ryan for Beyond the Stir and Tumult of Defeated Lands.
Brigid Ryan is a visual arts teacher at Trinity Catholic College.
The Wilson Visual Arts Award aims to showcase the talent of local and national artists, to recognize top artists for their achievements in the visual arts, and to expand, promote and document Lismore's role as a leading arts destination.
Committee chair Louise Young told The Echo everyone was "blown away" by the high standard of the works in the exhibition.
"It's very exciting to have an art event of this calibre in Lismore that has attracted entries from all over Australia. It has really inspired our Year 11 visual arts students," she said.