When Peter Kozak accepted his $4000 winner’s cheque for the 2012 Marie Ellis Prize for Drawing at Jugglers Art Space on August 3 he said “Thankyou…I don’t do speeches”. But he has a way of drawing that has kept everyone else talking ever since. Why would a series of short lines of minimal tonal intensity conglomerating into a graphite spaghetti ball fall over the line in a drawing art prize where significant technical skills and careful subject consideration abounded in every other of the 25 finalists?
Perhaps it is the simple profundity of the artist statement. “This work is part of a series of drawings focussing on the effects of long term illness on the body. I chose to approach the subject of illness through a series of pencil drawings drawn from fragments of woollen garments in a state of stress and decay. For me, these fragments of wool are an effective metaphor for the body, with their damage representing the bodies susceptibility to violent change.” This statement and drawing have been an epiphany for me. To see and to represent seeing like this continues to be an anchor for my life of observation and immersion in broken lives as a radiographer and in some of our programs at Jugglers. But what does it say to me about “the beautiful” and the work of artists in our collective at Jugglers and the other 100 + works that were entered in competition? While I celebrate creativity as a core element in human expression and meaning making it seems as if every now and again pain and the fraying edges of life finds a voice that is given the stage for a few moments and makes an impact only within a framework of reflective consideration. This work is not one I would pay $4000 for but it is one that in its skillful rendering, its bold story telling and beauty is worth more in its paradigm impact. It hangs now as part of the Jugglers Art Space Inc collection and I will use it repeatedly as my meditation so that I won’t have the wool pulled over my eyes by the smooth edges of plastic superficiality. [Peter Breen as Chair and Acting Director of Jugglers Art Space Inc was not on the judging panel for the Marie Ellis Drawing Prize].