Entries are now being accepted for the 2012 Heysen Prize for Interpretation of Place - the annual art competition which seeks to honour and continue the cultural legacy of Sir Hans Heysen and his significant artistic contribution to the Adelaide Hills region.
Originally a competition for landscape art, the Heysen Prize has been modified to explore artists' own interpretations of their environments, widening the scope of approach and medium.
Mount Barker artist Pamela Kouwenhoven is a three-time winner of the Heysen Prize, winning back to back in 1997 and 1998 and then again in 2003.
"I won in 1997, which was the inaugural Heysen Prize, then I won the very next year - it was so amazing," she said.
"I can still remember my disbelief when my name was called out - I couldn't believe it -and then I won again in 2003! I feel a bit guilty."
Pamela's first two wins were for her mixed media, semi-abstract coloured landscape works.
In the early 2000s Pamela changed her style and could not have predicted the uproar to follow.
"In 2003 I submitted one of my early Malthoid works which was made up of rows of squares, five across and five down, that had been cut from Malthoid to form a pattern," she said.
"It caused a lot of controversy - people started writing letters to the editor, some saying they liked it and many saying it was absolutely 'disgusting' and that Hans Heysen would be 'insulted'.
"And they didn't just complain for a couple of weeks, it went on for ages.
"I suppose it was a different kind of work and people weren't used to that, particularly in the Heysen Prize.
"A lot of people back then expected to see a realist work winning, something in the nature of Heysen's own works which were very beautiful realistic landscape paintings."
Conveniently, the Heysen Prize has been amended in recent years to accept an artist's own interpretation of their surroundings, allowing them to express their connections to the Australian environment, urban or natural, in the style and medium of their choosing.
"I have found great joy in interpreting the Australian landscape," Pamela said.
"I generally create works that reflect the outback - dry central Australian landscapes - but I like to do it in a little more abstract way. It's good to have a bit of variation and keep people on their toes.
"I had actually wanted very badly to be a landscape painter but my work wasn't quite of the standard I wanted it to be, so I suppose by default I've come into doing my own sort of landscape work, without using the traditional method of paint.
"Discovering the Malthoid and using it as a way to reflcet the dry Australian landscape was so exciting for me."
Pamela's unique muse is a waterproofing membrane used on the base of corrugated iron water tanks.
"If you're putting a new tank down, straight onto the earth or concrete, then you use Malthoid to stop it rusting - it's embedded with bitumen so it stops the moisture from seeping up too quickly," she said.
"When those tanks reach the rubbish dumps or are lying with holes in some farmer's paddock I come along and scrape the Malthoid off and put it to good use.
"For me it's also the story about what the Malthoid is used for - which is protecting our water.
"We're the driest state in the driest continent, so it has a story which is directly linked to our dry landscape.
"It's also been sitting on the land, weathering and wearing away to create an amazing texture - it virtually turns itself into art, I just give it a hand."
Pamela said she is inspired by unlikely objects found on the harsh Australian land.
"I've recently done a whole series of three dimensional works using discarded car battery cases, which are all worn and faded," she said.
"I've also found some partially burnt rolls of paper from an old printing press that had been out in the weather for about 20 years, they're amazing objects, and they also represent the dry land really well.
"My studio at the moment is full of wire, rusty tins, crushed metal, stuff that has been out in the landscape and has as a result gained the quality of the landscape."
The 2012 Heysen Prize for Interpretation of Place will be held at the Hahndorf Academy from October 6 to December 2.
A $10,000 non-acquisitive prize will be awarded to the work judged best entry and a $1,000 non-acquisitive prize will be awarded to the work judged by popular choice.
Deadline for entries is Friday, August 17 at 5pm. Finalists will be notified on Friday, August 31.
For conditions of entry and entry forms email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.hahndorfacademy.org.au
For more information on Pamela's artwork phone 8391 0649 or visit http://users.adam.com.au/pkouw/index.html Back