NEW York, Barcelona, Berlin and now Grafton.

While that does sound a tad humorous, visual artist Peter Alwast is enjoying his latest residency in the Jacaranda City at the Grafton Regional Art Gallery in the lead-up to the city's prestigious biennial drawing award.

Alwast won the 2010 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) with his work Trees Waterfall Back and as part of that package has been undertaking a three-week residency, which encompasses the 2012 announcement and the opening of his solo exhibition, Translations, tomorrow night.

While the weather has been a little warmer than the South Coaster is accustomed to, he has been soaking up what the Clarence Valley has to offer.

Besides sight-seeing and swimming, the artist has been getting some work done, drawing and seeking out new ideas.

"I don't know Grafton very well but usually something will strike me and I'll take a picture which might later become an inspiration for a drawing. If I complete a work during my stay I might add it to my exhibition here."

Alwast will exhibit his works from the past nine months, including three large works and four smaller pieces upstairs in the gallery's loft space.

The Polish-born artist has had a busy time since winning the 2010 JADA, undertaking overseas residencies, expanding his craft and welcoming a new baby daughter just seven weeks ago.

He describes his practice of linking real and virtual worlds using a mix of video, drawing, painting and computer technology.

"I create technical drawings on computers, much like architectural drawings, to construct a perception of space, that crossover between the tangible and intangible," Alwast said.

"Painting has an obvious sense of materiality. It registers the real. Alongside that are the de-material components of media, video, printing and computers."

Alwast began to expand his notion of painting in his early works by using products like silicone, polyurethane, wood and airbrushing in the processes, moving into video stills and computer graphics in recent years.

His JADA-winning work uses pencil, oil marker and giclee (a process for making fine art prints) on watercolour paper.

2010 was the first year entering the award and he was pretty pleased to receive the phone call on the morning of the official announcement.

"I thought I had a shot but wasn't sure by any stretch," he recalls of the time.

Alwast, along with some of the 2012 JADA finalists, will be attending the official opening this Friday night and will be giving an artist's talk on Saturday morning along with the judge of the 2012 award, Dr Campbell Gray, director of the University of Queensland Art Museum.



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