Connecting in the Understory

Art prizes can be a bit silly, being based on subjective choices. As artists we need to be aware of the emotional toll of submitting and being rejected much more often than we are accepted. Often we experience a disconnection from our peers and a sense of ‘not meeting the grade’. So are they worth the emotional toll? What’s the real value of a prize beyond the selection of finalists and a winner?

Whether or not we are selected in a prize, we get to see an array of quality work that an arts professional has chosen as being somehow representative of the zeitgeist. As a viewer it’s great to discover new work and to see it well displayed. Often viewers will criticise the judge’s choice, which can be very painful for an artist to hear.

But at the Moreton Bay Art Prize exhibition this year, my lasting impression has been about support. The Galleries and Museum team have been very focused on building and nurturing connection between artists. Instead of an ‘opening’ they had an artist networking event, and the award ceremony is towards the end of the exhibition. Good thinking! I’ve just experienced mutual solidarity with the other artists.

image shows Rachel Apelt standing in front of her piece, Understory. It's a large work on paper in earth tones, featuring different sized Macaranga leaf prints that have been printed on life drawings.
Understory at Pine Rivers Art Gallery

Pine Rivers Art Gallery

Pine Rivers Art Gallery has shifted to a bright, new, airy space next to Officeworks in Strathpine. The Moreton Bay Art Prize finalist exhibition is on display there until 4 June, 2022. I’m in great company with strong pieces that have been thoughtfully installed and beautifully lit.

My piece, Understory explores connection and repair in our fraught time. It features Macaranga tanarius leaf ecoprints on up-cycled life drawings. It’s wrapped around a corner to create a more intimate viewing space, hinting at the shelter the Macarangas provide us and other, more delicate plants. Here’s a brief visual telling of it:

The winners will be announced on 28 May. The new Pine Rivers Art Gallery is next to Officeworks at Strathpine.