First time entry takes top award

FIRST TIME WINNER: Mount Gambier's Paul Sundstrom won the South East Art Society's Grand Prize at the Open Art Awards announced last week at the Riddoch Art Gallery.

Charlotte Varcoe

A FIRST time exhibitor took out the top award at the South East Arts Society (SEAS) Open Arts Awards announced last week at Mount Gambier’s Riddoch Art Gallery.

Picking up a paintbrush only two and a half years ago, Paul Sundstrom received the Grand Prize with his emotional painting ‘Out of the Darkness’.

Mr Sundstrom said it blew his mind last Friday night when he was announced as the overall winner of the competition after not expecting to receive any awards at all.

“There were very good artists that put the work in and this was both my first exhibition and competition I had entered,” Mr Sundstrom said.

The avid painter first put brush to canvas after experiencing difficulties with his mental health and he has used the artistic medium to express his emotions ever since.

“This artwork had so many emotions in it and I think the judges saw that too,” Mr Sundstrom said.

“My piece was pure emotion and I even made up the name myself to represent the painting.”

Influenced by his own emotions, Mr Sundstrom said he felt “very sad” when he was creating the painting.

“I was asked to put my emotions into a painting and used two brushes at the same time with so many different colours and it just appeared from there,” he said.

“Once I was finished, it had such a large amount of emotion put into it that I actually put it into a cupboard for two weeks before I could bring it out.”

Speaking on the benefit of painting, Mr Sundstrom said it had helped him with his mental health and provided mindfulness.

“I have achieved some great paintings that I have given away since beginning and even had an auction last year for Baptist Care’s Christmas Appeal,” Mr Sundstrom said.

“That was a wonderful thing to do and it raised quite a bit of money for the children.”

Now a member of the SEAS, he said having community support only encouraged him to continue his work with a number of other paintings in the works already.

“I also have a few ideas for next year’s competition,” he said.

“I thought I was out of my league with the other great artists and the work they have put in because some days I can have a canvas sitting on the table and nothing happens until I am inspired and other days I don’t do any painting at all.”

Mr Sundstrom also received second prize for the Mixed Media Award.

Other winners on the night included:

Painting – 1st Jan Telford, 2nd Nita Von Stanke.

Works on Paper – 1st Sue Foureur, 2nd Heather Lucas.

Mixed Media – 1st Paul Sundstrom, 2nd Liz Francis.

Photography – 1st Michael Van Der Linden, 2nd Willie Davidson.

Digital Arts Video – 1st Luke Pellen, 2nd Daniel Pearson.

Textiles – 1st Kerrie Head, 2nd Diana Moskwa.

3D Art – 1st Chrissy Pudney, 2nd Luke Nesbitt.

Patrons Award – Tim Holiday.

Member Award – Sally O’Connor.

First Time Exhibitor – Diana Ashworth.

Young Artists Award Secondary School – 1st Jemma Gittins, 2nd Lily Cain.

Young Artists Award Primary School – 1st Opal Mcilduff, 2nd Che Hussey.

Inclusive Award – 1st Kim Thorpe, 2nd Che Hussey.