WINNING GRIN: Mullaway artist Fiona Bennell speaks yesterday after being announced as the winner of the Country Energy Art Priz
WINNING GRIN: Mullaway artist Fiona Bennell speaks yesterday after being announced as the winner of the Country Energy Art Priz

Artist?s ?dream comes true

By EMMA CORNFORD

THE vibrant red feathers adorning Fiona Bennell's earrings were as colourful as her work Silent Protest, which yesterday won the prestigious Country Energy Art Prize for Landscape Painting at the Grafton Regional Gallery.

The acrylic three-panelled work, which depicts rows of colourful cows looking imploringly at the viewer, beat more than 470 entries from across the State to take home the $35,000 prize. The Mullaway-based artist and architect was one of only two third-time finalists in the award, but yesterday said she was still in a state of shock.

"It was 24 hours ago that I found out, but I still feel like I'm in a different world," Ms Bennell said.

"It's as if my dream of being an artist has come true and maybe that can help me to have an impact environmentally which is my other dream."

Overall judge, artist Suzanne Archer, said Ms Bennell's work had caught her eye as soon as she entered the gallery to view the work of the 42 finalists.

"I think it is a really beautiful work with pure colours," Ms Archer said.

"The cows look as if they're confronting you with that stubborn look cows so often have."

Ms Archer said Silent Protest had captured the subject well.

"It was really the unity of colour which made it stand out from the others around it."

Other finalists who gained a mention from the judge included Matt Pilkington with his work of found timber, Paddock of Melting Snow, and Glen Vause with The Recluse ? a picture of a lone cow in the city.



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