Eurobodalla Prize 2020 winner Raewyn Lawrence banner image

Raewyn Lawrence

Eurobodalla Prize 2020 winner Raewyn Lawrence

Tell us about yourself and your art practice.

My childhood was spent on a wheat and sheep property in regional NSW. A place of cold winters, hot summers and big open skies.

I moved away, to Sydney to study art at what is now known as the National Art School (NAS) in Darlinghurst. What a culture shock!

For those that don’t know, the NAS is located within the high sandstone walls of the old convict jail. A very historical and haunting place, but I loved it.

Sydney seemed hard to escape, but finally I did and so happy for it. I was lucky to still have the connections and opportunity to exhibit there on a number of occasions.

Starting a family pretty much brought an abrupt halt to my painting for a time, but what a trade off. I’ve been so blessed to have two wonderful young people in my life. They have also been a great subject source for some of my work over the years. I suppose their affect on me has triggered more interest in translating some more personal work that explores emotions and events from my own life and family history.

Landscapes are still very current subjects in my work and living on the NSW south coast, I find it impossible not to feel in awe of the beauty of the natural world. The light and colours that are constantly changing are an endless source of inspiration. Another rich resource is our local history and folklore, both indigenous and colonial. So many stories!

I do carry a sketch pad with me pretty much all of the time, but I enjoy painting mainly in the solitude of the studio, a place where productivity can blend with cups of tea and contemplation.

What does winning this year’s Eurobodalla Prize of $5,000 and a solo exhibition at the Bas in 2021 mean to you?

It has been an absolute honour and surprise to have my painting chosen from such a selection of beautiful work. Along with winning the Eurobodalla Prize I have to admit a big OMG moment when realising there was also an expectation of an exhibition of work to create in less than a year. But that was last week. Feeling optimistic, even excited about the opportunity now.

The prize of $5,000 is a very generous gift from the Council and greatly appreciated. It will relieve much of the stress related to the expenses of presenting a body of work for show.

Raewyn Lawrence's artwork titled Smoke
Raewyn Lawrence, Smoke, 2020, Oil on canvas, 76 x 91cm

The cost of materials and framing etc. can be quite inhibiting at times for us artists.

On selecting your work, ‘Smoke’, this year’s judge Daniel Soma commented:

“It is a painting that you can feel, smell… the artist managed to capture a quiet moment within a very chaotic period”.

Can you tell us more about the scene in your work and how it resonates with your experience of the past summer fires?

‘Smoke’ came from a small, quick pencil sketch of a bush track. A compilation of inspiring moments I’ve felt on some of our many beautiful walking trails. I hadn’t initially intended to paint a charred landscape, but in transferring to canvas with colour, it was never going to be anything else.

Like many, I feel the past summers fire experience has left an unusually high level of anxiety, still sitting quietly within us.

The thick smell of smoke, the continuous sounds of sirens and low flying aircraft, the constant packing and unpacking of precious belongings in the care. Not knowing where or when the fire will arrive. The need for a moment of peace and calm was overwhelming. We all just wanted the fires to stop. With that said, there is a strange beauty in the colours. The orange glow of the sun through it’s smoky filter, contrasted with the blue from the smouldering ground and in using those colours, I have tried to find that moment of peace within my painting.

What can we expect from your solo exhibition at the Bas in 2021?

This is a rather difficult question to answer distinctly at this stage. I expect my exhibition next year will be a mixture of some of my favourite pieces and many new works. It will be a great opportunity for me to explore and develop some ideas that have been floating around in my mind for some time. I have been longing to learn more about my chosen medium and having the application of the paint being as important or more important than the subject. Regardless of the shape of the exhibition it will be a very positive development in my journey as an artist.