Sienna Montgomery-Pittaway wins 2020 Rotary Youth Art Prize

The local teenager has taken out regional South Australia's richest youth art prize, announced in Murray Bridge on Sunday.

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Sienna Montgomery-Pittaway stands next to her award-winning work Eye Candy; people’s choice winner Window to the Soul by Jazmyn Bella Carr is behind her. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

A “totally amazing” picture full of intense, unnerving energy has won regional South Australia’s richest youth art prize for a Murray Bridge teenager.

Sienna Montgomery-Pittaway was named the overall winner of the 2020 Rotary Youth Art Prize at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery on Sunday.

A crowd of about 45 people applauded as each winner was announced, including Sienna, who took home $1000 cash for her efforts.

“This work really captivated and intrigued me on so many levels,” judge Lauren Mustillo said of Eye Candy, a canvas layered with eyes and bright colours.

“There is an element of chaos, and the many different competing colours in those high, saturated tones meant that it felt very busy, bustling; it has an energy and a movement.

“Then you have the eyes themselves, simultanously popping out but also dissolving into the background layers; I thought it was slightly unnerving.”

Eyes were also a theme for several other works in the exhibition, including Window to the Soul, a pencil and watercolour image which won a $300 people’s choice award for Jazmyn Bella Carr.

The people’s choice runner-up was Lily Dunbar, a student at Cornerstone College in Mount Barker, for Dead Tired.

The overall runner-up was Kade Smith for his Adelaide Oval Replica, a digital creation which took countless hours to build in the game Minecraft, displayed on a three-minute video loop in the gallery.

The other category winners, each of whom took home $300, and runners-up, who won $100, were:

  • 12-15 years: Valentina Plisko, The Faceless Children in Detention, several face-shapes made of barbed wire attached to a brick; runner-up Grace Lawlor, Beauty of It, a pencil drawing

  • 16-18 years: Lachlan Bald, Self-Portrait, a digital and pen drawing; runner-up Indygo Kidd, Subtle, a charcoal and graphite study of light and shadow

  • 19-25 years: Eve Denner, I Can Feel It Calling Me, photograph of an illuminated crucifix on a dark street at night; runner-up Kristal Matthews, We Are Warriors, acrylic dot painting on canvas

Artworks tell next generation of world leaders' stories, judge says

Ms Mustillo credited each of the 90 artists who entered this year’s awards for putting themselves out there.

“By submitting an artwork, you are putting an idea out into the world, you are stepping forward in an act of bravery and vulnerability to contribute to a discussion and to have your voice heard,” she said.

“I encourage you to continue your journey with art in whatever form that may take, whether you pursue a career in the arts or whether you enjoy making and creating as a hobby, or visiting galleries and reading about it.

“To engage in art is to be on a life-long journey of learning about ourselves and others.”

Gallery director Fulvia Mantelli agreed.

“It doesn’t matter what you want to be when you grow up, when you finish school, if it hasn’t got anything to do with the arts; engaging with the arts from early on is going to set you up in whatever direction you want to go,” she said.

She also thanked the artists for helping the annual exhibition grow from just 32 entries two years ago to 149 this year, and encouraged them to go bigger again next year.

The Rotary Youth Art Prize is an annual initiative of the Rotary Clubs of Mobilong and Murray Bridge and the Murray Bridge council, through the gallery and youth centre The Station.

The exhibition has now closed to make way for Terminus, a touring exhibition of virtual reality works from the National Gallery of Australia, which will open on Saturday.