First time entrant claims Tasmania's prestigious Glover Prize

New South Wales artist Halinka Orszulok is still pinching herself after she was announced the 2018 Glover Prize winner on Friday.

It was the first time she entered the prize and she is the second woman in the history of the prize to claim the award.

Her moody painting Ponies captured an ominous scene of Cataract Gorge after dark.

“I’m really interested in those kinds of landscapes that merge the natural environment and the built environment and how people interact with those spaces,” Orszulok said.

She particularly enjoyed capturing the transformation of well-known areas at night.

People responded quite differently to darkness, particularly when it juxtaposed children’s play ponies with ominous shadows, she said. 

“I hope there’s a darkness, but also a serenity and some elements of beauty in the work.”

“I saw the quality of the works last year and that really motivated me to enter, I wanted to put myself in that mix. I exceeded my expectations,” Orszulok said.

“I still am pinching myself, I am thrilled.”

Orszulok won $50,000 and a bronze maquette of colonial artist John Glover, who inspired the prize.

She planned to use the prizemoney to find a new studio as she has to move from her current base.

Orszulok said she wanted to thank the three judges Dr Jane Deeth, Natalia Ottolenghi Bradshaw and Tony Stephens.

“I am truly honoured and gobsmacked. If you come and see the prize, you’ll see the quality of the work is extremely high,” she said.

Stephens said Orszulok’s work spoke to the judges as it was both traditional in medium, but not traditional in subject matter.

It was a space seldom to appear in artworks, he said.

“Historically landscape painting is kind of expansive, it’s looking at the landscape in a classical frame, which is quite romantic.

“Halinka’s painting kind of debunks some of that, looking at the natural beauty of Cataract Gorge set against this man-made interaction through the playground that is abandoned at nighttime because these man-made landscapes only have resonance in daytime when they’re occupied by people.”

The varied Glover Prize artworks highlighted the different interactions people had with the Tasmanian landscape, he said.

Curator Megan Dick said Orszulok transformed a familiar space into a darker

She had the difficult task of curating the 42 diverse artworks into an exhibition at Falls Park Pavilion at Evandale.

“The Glover Prize is very significant because access to contemporary visual arts is quite limited in Northern Tasmania. It gives people an opportunity to view 42 artworks and perhaps follow those artists through their career and develop their own interests,” Dick said.

The Glover Prize exhibition will be on display at Falls Park Pavilion at Evandale between March 10 and 13, and the following weekend, March 17 and 18