$20k prize win Wunder-bar for shocked Geraldton artist

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Mid West Art Prize Overall Award for Excellence winner Zac Bruce and Dominique Bayens at the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery on February 16.
Camera IconMid West Art Prize Overall Award for Excellence winner Zac Bruce and Dominique Bayens at the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery on February 16. Credit: Francesca Mann/Geraldton Guardian, Francesca Mann The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton artist Zac Bruce was speechless when he found out he had won the top gong at the 2019 Mid West Art Prize earlier this month.

Bruce’s entry in the biennial competition, a 10-minute film called The Wunder Years, was the first piece of work he had entered in an art prize.

And it probably won’t be his last — the City of Greater Geraldton overall award for excellence came with a cool $20,000 cash prize.

“I’m still in a mild state of shock,” the 29-year-old told The Geraldton Guardian.

“I was happy with the work I’d put in. I felt good about the art and that was the most important thing.

“I feel incredibly appreciative and so glad to have the opportunity to connect with so many people.

“I’d like to use this opportunity and incredible good fortune to really embrace being an artist.”

It's not often the audience watches the credits of a movie, but Zac Bruce's entry in the Mid West Art Prize captivated crowds till the very end. His short film, The Wunder Years, took out the Overall Award for Excellence on February 16.
Camera IconIt's not often the audience watches the credits of a movie, but Zac Bruce's entry in the Mid West Art Prize captivated crowds till the very end. His short film, The Wunder Years, took out the Overall Award for Excellence on February 16. Credit: Francesca Mann Geraldton Guardian

Bruce’s short film, which he stars in alongside girlfriend Dominique Bayens, explores how society relies on books, movies and cultural myths to make sense of life when it gets confusing.

What started as a small seed of an idea quickly took flight and four days later, the film was completed.

“I had no idea what it was going to be when I started,” he said.

“Usually it takes a really long time for me to put something together, but I got a bit of momentum ... and it evolved on its own.”

Bruce was one of four Mid West artists to snag awards at this year’s art prize.

The Red FM youth award was split between Tyron Merritt for his digital photograph, Gero Through a Lens, and Elliot Brown for his photo, Missed Connection.

Merritt’s striking photo of the Point Moore Lighthouse was snapped from the window of his mum’s car as they drove past one day.

Mid West Art Prize finalist Colin Clarke and RED FM Youth Award winner Tyron Merritt in front of Bevan Honey's piece Seed Stitch (Horizon) and Merritt's photograph, Gero Through a Lens.
Camera IconMid West Art Prize finalist Colin Clarke and RED FM Youth Award winner Tyron Merritt in front of Bevan Honey's piece Seed Stitch (Horizon) and Merritt's photograph, Gero Through a Lens. Credit: Francesca Mann Geraldton Guardian

Brown’s piece uses his favourite photographic elements — light and shadows — to explore the idea of missing potential connections in our day-to-day lives.

Elliot Brown with his Mid West Art Prize photograph, Missed Connection. Brown was a joint winner of the Red FM youth award.
Camera IconElliot Brown with his Mid West Art Prize photograph, Missed Connection. Brown was a joint winner of the Red FM youth award. Credit: Francesca Mann Geraldton Guardian

Artist William Upchurch took home the Incite Security Midwest artist award for his piece, Having to Leave. The charcoal and pastel drawing of a woman preparing to head to Perth for study is Upchurch’s fourth portrait using an old swag as the canvas.

Midwest Artist Award winner William Upchurch with his Mid West Art Prize piece, Having to Leave.
Camera IconMidwest Artist Award winner William Upchurch with his Mid West Art Prize piece, Having to Leave. Credit: Francesca Mann Geraldton Guardian

Newman artist Corban Clause Williams won the Rio Tinto Midwest Aboriginal award for his striking work, Kaalpa Well 23.

This year, 254 entries were received and just 71 artists were selected — 23 from the Mid West region.

The Mid West Art Prize is on display at the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery until March 30.

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