After Bridget Dolan had children she decided to do something different with her life. She left her high-pressure job as a costume and set designer, then committed to another branch of the arts – painting.
Little did she know one day she’d become one of Liverpool’s leading artists. And to make it official, about a week ago she won first prize at the Liverpool Art Society 20th Anniversary Exhibition – for the second year in a row.
Along with the title of the Liverpool Council Overall Prize Winner, she won $5000 for her painting Shadow & Light (125cm x 125cm), which has joined the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre collection.
The judge – renowned artist and educator Brian Stratton said Mrs Dolan's artwork stood out.
“It’s a haunting image with magnificent tonal arrangement. It’s certainly a worthy painting for the Powerhouse collection,” he said.
Mrs Dolan said her art was inspired by her background as a dancer and is part of a body of works.
“I’m focusing on contemporary visual arts right now and I come from a dance background. I danced in Paris for a few years before coming back to Australia and doing a degree at NIDA.
“Shadow & Light is a figurative piece about relationships and connections between two people, so there are always two people in the series. The painting has negative space and explores gaps in what we know about each other. There’s always that play with connection and movement. I try to evoke emotions with my work.”
She said she used a specific painting technique called chiaroscuro.
“Chiaroscuro is all about strong lighting and background. It creates drama in the painting and is tonal with greys where the figure drifts off into shadow. I slow down a living image to the moment that says something complicated or interesting about what’s happening.”
The artist, 42, said she was proud to have her artwork hung in her hometown.
“The exhibition is sponsored by Liverpool Council and CPAC, which is a a world-class art venue.
“But it means so much more to me because I come from the area. My mum lives at Holsworthy, so art is a great way to get back to my roots and be part of the community.
“Liverpool Art Society has been fantastic – they have life drawing classes, demonstrations and it’s a really affordable way for people to get together and share their interests.
“I hope the artwork gets seen by the community. The reason to do it is to communicate and if it’s out there in the world hopefully other people can read through the lines and connect with it in some way.”
Mrs Dolan plans to spend the $5000 prize on completing a body of work for another exhibition.
“The money will help fund the art supplies and material for an exhibition in August next year, called Mayspace in Waterloo.”
The runner-up got the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Scholarship Prize. Winner Steve Jannar got $1500 for his artwork Greenwich Boatshed from Woolwich.
CPAC director Craig Donarski said keen visitors will be able to enjoy the art exhibition until December 22.
“What a showcase for the creative talents of our neighbourhood! I love the very democratic and inclusive nature of these competitions, where the highly enthusiastic amateur can share a wall with the highly skilled professional and all can be judged on their merits,” he said.
“The variety on show here is staggering so I’d be very surprised if any visitor couldn’t find at least a few works that they really like.”
- Shadow & Light – image No.41 in exhibition in the Hopper Gallery.
- Greenwich Boatshed from Woolwich – image No.77 in exhibition in the Switch Gallery.