When Iluka artist Cass (Catherine) Gartner heard about the Collie Art Prize she decided she wanted to find a real Collie character, someone born and bred in the town, though she admits she might have been taking the prize’s theme of ‘identity’ a bit too literally.
Her watercolour painting of Collie man Arthur ‘Banjo’ Paterson, has been voted the People’s Choice winner of the Collie Art Prize, winning her a $1000 prize granted by Wanda Bird of Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast.
Having decided she wanted to find someone who might represent the identity of Collie, Cass says, “I rang up the pub and I asked the woman there if she knew of anyone who had a character face, someone who lived in Collie who was born and bred there, and she suggested Mick Murray the local Member of Parliament. But she said he was only about 60, and I thought no, I was looking for someone with more of a weathered look. Then she suggested Banjo. I rang his daughter-in-law and asked for a meeting. And when I saw him I thought, yes he’s got the sort of character I’d like to paint.”
The People’s Choice prize was announced at the end of the Collie Art Prize exhibition when all the votes cast by visitors to the exhibition had been counted. “I didn’t hear until the end of the exhibition. I got a call on Monday, and I was over the moon,” she said.
Wanda Bird, the People’s Choice prize sponsor was delighted to be able to present the prize cheque to Cass the following day at the gallery.
“It’s just so exciting. I’d spent a month and a half wondering who was going to win the People’s Choice because it was so diverse and there was just something for everyone,” Mrs Bird said.
“The fact that only one piece of work didn’t get a vote shows how diverse it was, that most people liked something there. There were over 900 votes cast and there were only ten votes between first and second. The winner was absolutely marvellous, I thought it was wonderful.”
Wanda knows the subject Banjo personally. His brother David comes with his wife to stay at Wanda’s Whispering Pines every year for Banjo’s birthday in March.
“This year they came just after the exhibition had opened and they were so excited,” she added.
Wanda has been a strong supporter of the Collie Art Gallery since its inception. “I just must congratulate the gallery for their amazing effort in staging something like this,” she said.
First of all getting the funding and then staging an Australia wide exhibition. It’s an enormous task, a huge task to take on, and in a gallery that’s so young. It’s just wonderful. The pleasure was all mine, to be involved in something as great as the Collie Art Prize. I’m looking forward to the next one.”