A WORK by Michael McWilliams - a Northern Tasmanian artist synonymous with the Glover Art Prize since its inception in 2004 - yesterday was declared the most popular entry in the 2012 competition and exhibition.
Nine years ago McWilliams's work Bandicoot on a Log won the inaugural $35,000 Glover Art Prize for contemporary landscape painting. This year his acrylic on linen Bush Blankets was decreed the $3000 People's Choice.
Described by Glover Prize curator Jane Deeth as a ``poetic work, with a clear literary narrative'', McWilliams's painting of white fabric blanketing the Tasmanian landscape, outvoted the official judges' controversial selection of Port Arthur by Rodney Pople.
``Pople's work drew votes as did many other works hanging on these walls, but McWilliams is the clear favourite,'' Deeth said, staying tight-lipped on the exact count.
Yesterday's announcement brought the Glover to a comfortable close after a flurry of controversy greeted news that an oil of Port Arthur with mass murderer Martin Bryant at its heart was officially judged ``best painting''.
``Pople's Port Arthur has drawn plenty of crowd interest, plenty of interesting conversations, because it depicts a sensitive issue,'' Deeth said.
``It is a melancholy work that makes people asks the questions - What is landscape?, What is Tasmanian landscape?, What is a painting?
``Landscape is open to endless interpretation, and Pople's painting is just one interpretation.
``His is work about history on the landscape, there are others that depict joy in the landscape, diversity is what makes the Glover such an engaging exhibition.''
Also announced yesterday, was the inaugural Glover Children's Choice, which was Catch 22 by Matthew Quick.
Official crowd figures for the four-day exhibition were not available yesterday, although Deeth estimated a 25 per cent increase in attendance, much of that attributable to the ``conversation'' generated by Pople's work.