Prue Wilkinson’s winning artwork, “Cage of Confusion”.

Prue Wilkinson (Riley, 2019), has been awarded the People’s Choice award at the prestigious 2020 Top Arts exhibition hosted by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Her watercolour and gouache painting was selected from 1,700 works submitted via the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority’s (VCAA) application process for the 2020 VCE Season of Excellence, with just 46 pieces of art selected for exhibition at the NGV.

Top Arts is an annual exhibition presenting exceptional the work of VCE Art and VCE Studio Arts students undertaking the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE).

Head of Girton Grammar School, Dr Clayton Massey, said that having work acknowledged by gallery visitors was a great compliment and that Prue had produced an evocative piece of art to which many people can relate.

“Prue’s art conveys the lost, scared, and confused expressions of an elderly family member with Alzheimer’s disease.

“She has skillfully captured the complexity of the disease and the human suffering that it brings.

“Winning the popular vote within the field of the Arts is always an incredible achievement and the Macquarie Group People’s Choice Award, provides significant support for an emerging artist like Prue at the start of their career,” Dr Massey said.

This year, Prue will commence her second year at RMIT University doing a Bachelor of Fine Arts specialising in painting. She feels fortunate to spend every day learning about what she loves and enjoys being with like-minded people and being inspired by those around her.

“Art is something I have always loved more than anything. I am still learning and intend to keep learning more and more about this industry.

“I wish to share my creativity with the world and having my painting on display at the National Gallery of Victoria for the Top Arts exhibition gave me this opportunity.

“My goal at the start of VCE was to be in Top Arts, and I worked hard to achieve that goal.

“Winning the Macquarie Group People’s Choice award has reinforced for me how much love and support I have received from family and friends these past couple of years. I could not have done it without them.

 Dr Massey with Prue at the National Gallery Victoria.

“My Top Arts piece is titled Cage of Confusion. It reflects how Alzheimer’s sufferers feel imprisoned, transforming their bodies from something familiar to cages of confusion. I depicted confinement through body language and by focusing the subject’s expression to lost, scared, and confused.

“The subject of the painting is my Aunt’s father who I spent time with in a nursing home. I was confronted with the reality of Alzheimer’s, including its effects on loved ones and the general devastation of the illness.

“The piece took about three weeks to complete,” she said.

Prue said that 2020 allowed her to see the world from a new perspective, which is particularly valuable for an artist and that she is excited to see where her art may take her in the future.

“Once university went online, I was painting almost every day in my little college room. Once I moved back to Bendigo, I created my first ever sculpture using materials I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.

“In the future, I intend to continue creating imagery, and I would love to be doing anything in the industry. I will consider myself successful if I can achieve the happiness and satisfaction that comes from spending every day doing what I love,” she said.