Sue Smith Wins Prestigious Australian Art Prize

"Which way to Pine Gap, Mate?" wins major art prize!

Queensland based artist Sue Smith has continued her successful “Western Serenade” exhibition theme with a stunning new painting “Which way to Pine Gap, mate?” which has won the prestigious $10,000, ‘2023 John Villiers Outback Art Prize’. The prize is sponsored by the John Villiers Trust and has an annual overall prize pool of $17,500. The exhibition was officially opened by Dr. Cheryl Hirst, Director of the Trust on Saturday March 11, 2023.

Sue’s winning entry was selected from 250 national entries and judged by curators, Emily Wakeling (RMOA), and Lauren Turton (Artspace Mackay). Held at the ‘Outback Regional Gallery’ in the Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton, Outback Gallery Exhibition Supervisor Karen Stephens, was impressed by the quality of the entrants in the finalists’ exhibition.

Sue’s painting takes you on a satirical journey between the surreal and the real, with a palette of vibrant colour depicting a semi-abstraction of the Isla Gorge outback landscape.   

The journey of a hero on horseback is a universal theme embraced and romanced by many cultures, and is saturated through American culture. In this artwork, the hero is the ‘Lone Ranger’ in a contemporary iteration as a hapless secret service agent lost near the western Queensland site of Isla Gorge while en route to the Australian-United States security facility, Pine Gap, near Alice Springs. The Lone Ranger’s gaily coloured outfit may be a reflection on his relationship with his absent law enforcing partner, Tonto.

An artist and serious scholar with a Master of Arts from London’s prestigious Courtauld Institute of Art, Sue hopes her work is accessible through “personal interpretation, tinged with a cheeky sense of humour”.  She hopes her work takes the viewer on a similar journey to the one she took when creating the work. “It’s not about the artist, not about the curator, it’s about the interaction with the viewer, their interpretation, and what they can take away from the work,” Sue explains. Sue Smith's art web site can be seen here