After submitting a piece of art that he thought was “bold and controversial rather than safe”, Paul says he was “shocked” to have been named first prize winner at the 2019 CONNECTED Art Exhibition.
Titled ‘The Dictators’, the 1m by 80cm artwork featured world leaders presented as comical characters.
“I totally didn’t expect to win,” said Paul, 29, who created his winning piece at an arts workshop, offered as part of a day program at a Yooralla Community Hub. Facilitated by trained and practising artists, the workshops are designed to support people with disability to achieve their goals and develop their artistic skills, based on their own individual interests.
“I’m a big fan of history, politics and pop culture, so all of it came together in this piece,” said Paul. “Donald Trump was my inspiration,” he added laughing.
CONNECTED Art Exhibition is held annually at Federation Square to celebrate emerging artists with disability or experience of mental illness.
A panel of judges hand-picks best pieces for the exhibition each year out of hundreds of submissions from across Victoria.
Eighty-nine art pieces were selected for the 2019 exhibition, including three by Yooralla customers – Kelly, Sammy and Paul.
Disability Support Workers Amie Anderson and Samuel Hardidge, who facilitate the art workshops at Yooralla’s Rochester Road and Box Hill Community Hubs, supported the customers with their projects. Both practicing artists, Amie has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Sculpture and Spacious Practice and Samuel has an Advanced Diploma in Art Therapy.
Amie and Samuel also supported the customers to make their winning submissions.
“Each Yooralla artist, who wanted to enter, selected a piece of their recent work they were most proud of. The artists then had to photograph their work so it would become a digital file to upload to the application, and write about the ideas behind their piece,” said Amie.
“We were so proud of Kelly, Sammy and Paul. This is a great achievement as they were selected from a large pool of artists Victoria-wide based on the strength of their work,” said Samuel.
The names of the top three winning artists were announced at a special celebration event held at the exhibition.
Paul said he was stunned when his name was announced as overall winner.
“I honestly couldn’t believe my ears when I heard my name. I was shocked to be accepted into the exhibition, let alone to be announced as winner, but I was really excited and fully embraced the moment,” said Paul.
Amie said the judges said it was a “unanimous decision” this year as Paul’s work was “outstanding”.
Yooralla has Community Hubs across Victoria, where people with disability can receive the support they require, meet new friends and get out in their local community, all while learning new skills. Read more about Yooralla's Community Hubs.