Mayor Janie Dickenson presented Garry Greenwood with the award last night at Launceston restaurant Fluid among examples of the internationally- acclaimed leather sculptor's work.
The Mt Barrow artist's eyes filled with tears as he accepted the award in front of about 60 people.
He said it was gratifying to be acknowledged in his community.
"While there is a lot going on in terms of art in the community, there isn't really a lot of acknowledgment by way of awards," he said before the ceremony.
"It's nice to receive acknowledgment of the design component in my work."
The British-born artist is world-renowned for the sensual forms he moulds from cowhide.
His collections have won acclaim nationally and internationally.
The former graphic designer began working with leather in the early 1970s at the Bowerbank Mill art gallery near Deloraine, which he set up with his then-wife.
Gallery patrons had never seen anything like Greenwood's early erotic leather and hessian hangings, his whimsical leather boots and medieval shoes.
An interlude as a senior lecturer at the Canberra School of Art, where he first worked seriously with dancers and artists, prompted elaborate leather masks and a move into theatre and set design.
But it is the moulding of musical instruments that consumes him now.
The sculptor, himself a respected folk and bluegrass musician, describes them as leather sculptures that create sound.
Sounds Of Leather, an exhibition tracing the evolution of Greenwood's acoustic sculptures to playable instruments, will open at the Inveresk Queen Museum and Art Gallery on February 19.