Kobe painting receives People’s Choice Award

PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Justin Clarke with his children Skyler and Ziana as they celebrate his win of the People's Choice Awards. Photo: Supplied.

Charlotte Varcoe

A LIFELONG love for basketball has secured Mount Gambier artist Justin Clarke the most votes for the South East Arts Society People’s Choice Awards.

The society held the opening of the Open Art Awards earlier this year at the Riddoch Arts and Culture Centre with guests invited to cast their vote on their favourite piece of work.

Mr Clarke was announced as the People’s Choice winner last week for his acrylic painting ‘Kobe’, which depicts American basketballer Kobe Bryant.

The local artist said he used a mixture of brushwork and layering to get the effect he wanted onto canvas before highlighting the piece with an airbrush.

“There was a lot of layering that went into this piece and a bit of smudging with my fingers in smaller parts too,” Mr Clarke said.

“I also used a little bit of spray paint for the splattering effect.”

Mr Clarke said the idea to paint the iconic basketballer came to him after the celebrity’s shocking death in a helicopter crash in 2020.

“I have been a big basketball fan in general ever since I was about eight years old,” he said.

“Growing up, I was a big Michael Jordan fan and when he retired, Kobe was the next big thing.

“It struck a chord with me when Kobe and his daughter died because I am a father myself and feel we missed out on what he and his daughter could have achieved together.”

Intending for the painting to be a tribute to the famous basketballer, Mr Clarke also had the painting professionally photographed before putting the print up for free online for 24 hours.

“I did this to allow fellow Kobe fans to have this tribute if they wanted,” he said.

“Very few basketballers had the mental strength and competitiveness that Kobe did and I chose a photo of him that specifically showed that strength.”

Humbled to have received the People’s Choice Award, Mr Clarke said local art competitions allow for shy artists to broaden their horizons and encouraged all interested to enter next year.