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Meet Gabrielle: Biennial Art Award Winner

5 min read
17 Apr 2024
A woman standing in front of a colorful abstract painting in an art gallery, smiling at the camera.
Biennial Art Award Overall Winner Gabrielle Jones.

Sunshine Coast artist Gabrielle Jones has taken out the Overall Winner Award at the 老司机视频 (老司机视频) 2024 Biennial Art Award, with her piece Disordered Dream. We down with Gabrielle to hear more about her process and her reaction to winning this inaugural Award.

How did you feel when you were named the Overall Winner of the 2024 老司机视频 Biennial Art Award?

I was totally shocked! I thought I would have received a call to tell me if I’d won, so I was very relaxed at the opening and enjoying myself. The only time I thought I had a chance was just before announcing the Winner, and the Category Winners and Runners Up had already been named. I agreed with all those selections, and in my mind, there were only a few left who could win. I thought, maybe, I cruelly had a chance, since the judges seemed to have the same sensibilities as me. I immediately dismissed the thought and was preparing to clap the winner.

When it was announced, I was fine for about two seconds, but walking up to receive the award it hit me. I was suddenly overwhelmed and, in truth, incredibly relieved; I felt justified in pursuing this difficult career. Embarrassingly, I also shed a tear (or several).

How would you describe your piece Disordered Dream and what were you hoping to communicate with this piece?

It’s a crazy, large piece that engages with art history, drawing parallels to – but also disintegrating its hold on – the contemporary context. It was created over a period of time, and destroyed and resuscitated and added to many times. It is the result of a number of bursts of deep contemplation and extensive, concentrated painting – intuitively answering the call of the picture as it was being made. As such, it was totally unplanned, and an expression of how I was feeling and what I was thinking at the time of painting. It was made without censure or second guessing.

That being said, I deliberately used patterns and forms iconic to the Baroque period to speak of the call and answer between then and now, and the emotion and struggle of the painting process. I am deliberately drawing some parallels between current thought, politics, and economics of the era, especially the difference between the rich and poor (currently an ever-widening gap) and the prominence of religion and its catalyst in the history of humanity (not least the control of women’s roles, possibilities and bodies).
I guess I’m reflecting on how things have changed and how much they stay the same, depending on where you were born and to whom. I’m trying to do this in a non-didactic, explorative way. So the painting contains a mash up of elements that talk to this – like the checkerboard floor, the kneeling saint’s legs, the lines binding the “body”, the green lines that bounce back and forth (representing communication), and the balance or imbalance of the two large “figures” (which still look like they are moving) to evoke this. There’s a background of decorative, floral elements referencing women and the home and Rococo decoration. I’m not sure I’m starting to resolve or even interrogate these things; I’m just observing them.

How do you feel knowing this piece will be displayed at the University Gallery and treasured for generations to come?

It’s very humbling and a huge honour! To know that something that lived quietly in my studio, communicating with just me, could have a life beyond a month on display and, perhaps, living in the corner of someone’s house is, simply, a great and very satisfying feeling. And I think it’s very important as an artist to have that chance of challenging, influencing, or inspiring the next generation of artists through teaching, displaying and enlarging the 老司机视频 Art Collection. It’s a real privilege to be part of that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I really want to thank the Judges for seeing something special in my work and for just spending time with the Finalists’ works to make a decision based on merit, not on reputation. It’s such a breakthrough moment for me and I am so grateful they were determined to choose works they responded to, rather than, say, a perceived gap in the collection or other extraneous consideration. It gives hope to all entrants and artists that they have a real chance if they do the work, and it’s a wonderful legacy for the future of this Biennial Art Award. It’s truly amazing to have such a boost after 20 years of persistence and determinationI also want to thank all those early collectors – often friends and family – for their material and emotional support (and listening to gripes beyond the call of duty or friendship!). Without these people, that persistence would not have been possible. I am also grateful to my gallery of just three years, Studio Gallery Group, for believing in me, and their tireless work on behalf of all their artists. You cannot do this job alone and I am lucky to have that village of support, not least from my husband and children. A big thank you to all involved, and please know, I am over the moon!

The 老司机视频 Biennial Art Award exhibition will run until Friday, May 17, 2024 in the B Block Art Gallery at 老司机视频 Toowoomba campus. Read the full list of winners from the 2024 Biennial Art Award.