Visit the Walker Street Gallery and Arts Center by June 17 and you’ll be moved by the faces and stories on display.
The Seen exhibition celebrates our local community through portraiture, with participants capturing the people who live, work and play in Greater Dandenong.
Prizes were offered in four categories, including a People’s Choice category that will be decided by visitors to the exhibition over the coming weeks.
The Open category winner was Gabriel Hingley for his painted portrait Gora.
Mr Hingley said he admired Gora Odiel and the resilience of his family who came to Australia to flee war-torn South Sudan.
“I am thrilled to be part of the Seen Portrait Prize and to feature my friend Gora.
“He and his family went through a lot of hardships, but they got through it. Gora’s father was an important leader of his tribe who was tragically killed in the conflict in 1996. His photo portrait is on the table in my painting.
Gora had continued his father’s noble peacekeeping legacy, striving to bring different tribes together in harmony, both in South Sudan and here in Dandenong, Mr Hingley said.
Sitting down for the portrait, Gora wore a brightly patterned shirt in the African tradition.
The gold-rimmed coffeepot and cup symbolize the warm hospitality accorded in a South Sudanese family home, especially Gora’s, Mr Hingley said.
“I am privileged to know someone like Gora and believe his life is an inspiration to many people, whether African or Australian, to seek reconciliation and peace in our communities.
“Gora is full of joy and positivity, a natural and highly respected leader and elder among the Anuak in his community. He smiles every time I see him and has a dignified presence, so I wanted to capture that in a portrait.“
Gora, the subject of Gabriel’s winning portrait, said he was happy and excited to be painted by his pastor and friend.
“I have lived in Greater Dandenong for 20 years and living locally has given me many opportunities. I am grateful and very proud to be here.
Mayor Cr Jim Memeti said: “(The portrait) Gora represents a beautiful story where two people from different parts of the world have come together.”
The judges said it was a compelling portrait and they loved the creativity, the thoughtful use of lighting, and the simple, yet impactful and thoughtful background of the subject.
Andrew Duong was highly praised for portraying Aysha and Van Than Dat Dao for his work Spring on Mother’s Back.
The winner in the secondary school category was Tarika Wimalasuriya for Personality of Three.
The judges were impressed with the level of technical skill and detail in this intriguing work. They admired the artist’s ability to capture the emotions of the subject.
Freshta Khairi for Self Portrait was highly praised.
In the primary school category, Fiona Zhou and Areyana Singh were awarded for their work Fiona
The judges found the work very striking and even though it was small it had an impact. The lighting and capturing of the subject’s emotion was also impressive.
Chad Sun was highly praised for portraying Chad S and Faith Taulapapa with the Mum work.
Vu was judged by esteemed industry professionals Zia Atahi, Alojz Babic and Esther Gyorki.
Judge and Artist Zia Atahi is a freelance documentary photographer and abstract painter based in Melbourne.
He was born in Ghazni, Afghanistan and came to Australia in 2005.
He said there was so much talent in Grand Dandenong.
“This exhibit is about the stories and faces of this city and I hope we can all learn something from their work,” Zia said.
The open category winner won a cash prize of $4,000, while the secondary and primary category winners won a set of art materials (valued up to $1,000) for themselves and their schools.
Proudly sponsored by The Drum Theatre, the Star News Group and Zart, experience the Seen exhibition at the Walker Street Gallery and Arts Center on the corner of Walker and Robinson Streets in Dandenong until Friday 17th June.