THE rain did its darnedest to drown out the important announcements but it didn't dampen the spirits of the crowd that attended the Grafton Regional Gallery on Friday night to see who claimed the prestigious 2016 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA).
Just as guest judge Ken Done got down to the business of announcing the $30,000 winner and $10,000 worth of acquisitions, the heavens opened up and the gallery's verandas were soon standing room only.
Fifteen of the 45 JADA finalists were present on the evening, including winner Adam Cusack, who travelled from Melbourne for the occasion.
Cusack said this was the first time he had entered the JADA and it was a tremendous honour to be chosen especially among this calibre of work and considering his drawing almost didn't make the journey to Grafton.
"I did know about the award but I was thinking this work was going to go to my Sydney gallery but I ended up finishing it in time for the JADA."
Cusack's realistic still life In Plain Sight was the first one he had done since university days, very different to his usual work which is more "figurative". And while on the surface it just looks like a random bunch of inanimate objects, the story behind them is a very "emotionally charged" one.
"Each item represents a member of my family. My father died when I was 12 and the cutlery box represents his coffin, one bottle is my late sister who was a soprano and pushed me to continue my art. I'm the vessel in the centre and the other bottle is my younger sister."
Cusack said his realist charcoal drawing took several months to complete, a very slow process as he explained "that corner of the table took me three days" as he pointed to about a square inch's worth of work.
He said the scene was not set up in any grand sense, hence the drawing's title but he used the illumination for effect.
"It's a completely black drawing using the white paper for the light. I started it in November last year and finished it two weeks before the JADA entries closed so I had enough time to get it framed.
Cusack said he was a big fan of Ken Done so was very pleased to receive the accolade from the artist he describes as "a tour de force" in the Australian art world.
"I've always admired him professionally.
"Whenever I'm in Sydney I always go to his gallery in The Rocks."