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Not packing it in

Gabriel Smith describes how winning the Wayne Kratzmann Award boosted her career as an emerging artist…..

Artists’ awards are crucial career catalysts and can encourage practitioners to continue on when they most feel like packing it in as I found when I won the Queensland Regional Art Awards Wayne Kratzmann Award in 2010. This award was pivotal in encouraging me to continue with my emerging career as a visual artist.
In 2009 I had decided that it was time for me to start concentrating on furthering my artistic practice. I entered every art contest I could find that my work related to. Unfortunately, as is often the way I had little success, however just as I was losing my confidence I received a letter to say that my work ‘Urban Footprints’ had been shortlisted for the Queensland Regional Art Awards touring exhibition. If I was selected this would mean my work would tour to 5 different venues throughout Queensland including the State Library in Brisbane. To say that I was excited was definitely an understatement but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
A couple of months later as I was driving through town I received a call from Stephen Clark from Flying Arts (now Flying Arts Alliance), letting me know that I was that year’s winner of the Wayne Kratzmann Award. I was speechless and had to pull over quickly to absorb this information. Finally I felt like I was on the right path.
After winning the award I applied, with the assistance of Flying Arts, for a Career Development Grant from Arts Queensland in order to travel with the touring exhibition to all 5 venues assisting with the installation and giving an artist talk.
The official launch was held at the Mundubbera Gallery, where with the kind assistance of numerous trained volunteers (I think there were at least 15) we installed 22 artworks into their first venue. It was wonderful to see such a large and truly supportive community come out to enjoy the opening event and I can honestly say I had never seen a spread such as they delivered!
The next venue was the Tablelands Gallery in Atherton. Here I met Tim, the main volunteer at the Gallery, he is an absolute gem of a man. With just 4 of us (my mother included) we were able to install the full exhibition within one day. For a midweek opening it was well attended, coinciding with a celebration for the volunteers of the Gallery. I was able to meet fellow artists from the exhibition, Deanna Maich and Helen Hume and local artist Lorraine Lamothe, which was wonderful as we could share our experiences of our arts practices.
Grasslands Gallery in Tambo was the third venue in the touring exhibition. Alison Shaw and her team of volunteers did an outstanding job of installing this large exhibition into their gallery. The opening was a beautiful intimate affair followed by a small dinner which enabled me to get to meet some of the other local artists. Although quite small, Tambo has a vibrant community of artists and arts appreciators who strive to increase the arts involvement within the region. On the same weekend there was a seminar celebrating Public Art in the nearby town of Blackall.  This is definitely an area to keep an eye on!
My incredible year as the winner of the 2010 Queensland Regional Art Awards culminated with the opening at the State Library and the Flying Arts 40th Birthday celebrations on the 19 November. The exhibition was formally opened by her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley, and what a speech it was. She is a  truly amazing woman with a wealth of knowledge of and commitment to the arts.
Since then my career has begun to blossom, I have held a couple of solo shows in Townsville as well as being part of numerous group exhibitions including 2 more years with the Queensland Regional Art Awards touring exhibitions. In 2013 I was invited to create a four metre public artwork to commemorate Tambo’s 150 year celebration. This was a challenging project as I normally work in landscape and this project required me to work more figuratively. The work ‘Many Faces Past and Present’, a 2D mixed media piece incorporating photos past and present that make up a map of the township, now resides in the Tambo Shire Hall for all to enjoy. I will be returning in August this year with a solo exhibition celebrating the National Parks of Queensland.
Without the opportunity that winning the Queensland Regional Art Award in 2010 has been, I may not have continued to pursue my career as an artist. I am deeply indebted to Flying Arts Alliance, Wayne Kratzmann, Umbrella Studio and Arts Queensland for encouraging and supporting artists in regional areas of Queensland.
Gabriel Smith

Gabriel Smith is a visual artist based in Townsville.  Gabrielle works across a variety of art media but specialises mostly in printmaking, painting and drawing which she tries to combine whenever possible.  Gabriel is interested in the differing feelings poeple have towards a place or environment and how the ‘sense of place’ is formed.  Gabrielle was the 2010 winner of the Wayne Kratzman Award, part of the Regional Queensland Art Awards





Feature image: ‘Urban Footprints’ 2010 Print Release (Collage, Pastel, Pencil and Acrylic)  Author photo: Adam Nicholas, 2011