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Community & Business

7 July, 2023

Local artists clean up at Dunedoo’s Art Unlimited

Gilgandra has cleaned up at this years’ Art Unlimited event, with a major prize and high commended received by two local artists.

By Emily Middleton

Chris Kunko took out the Peabody Wilpinjong Hanging Art Prize for his piece ‘Brett at Sunrise in the Warrumbungles’.

This major prize was judged by Kent Buchanan, curator at the Western Plains Cultural Centre. Mr Buchanan explained Mr Kunko’s “use of impasto builds depth that correlates with the depth of character he has captured in his portrait of Brett”.

“The use of colour and energy in the work helps the eye move around the picture plane, only to settle on the calm state of the subject.”

The painting of ‘Brett at Sunrise in the Warrumbungles’ depicts Brett Anderson, a businessman who Mr Kunko describes as having a “pre-occupation as a beneficiary of the arts in the region, interested in artists careers and utilising their practices as a way of telling local historical stories through street art and music”.

“Brett commissioned me in 2022 to paint him on a large canvas with oil paint, larger than life and loaded with colour. This was a fantastic opportunity for me,” said Mr Kunko.

When painting Brett, Mr Kunko made 15 ink studies, and took photos on his phone for reference during two sittings with him, in order to capture his “extralarge presence and calmness”.

“I had the idea of using the Warrumbungle landscape in this work as it is such a peaceful landscape to visit and resembles a fascinating power and energy from those volcanic times,” explained Mr Kunko.

“When it came down to painting the work, I had a deadline of about a week before the skin of the paint begins to dry. Not much was going through my mind while painting Brett, just positive thoughts. Pretty much just eat, sleep, paint, repeat!”

Being acknowledged for your work is always humbling and exciting, and Mr Kunko is extremely grateful.

“The confidence boost to continue my practice is the best feeling. To take my work into a capital city or coastal gallery again is the goal, while still being true to my location and help as an example for people to work hard on their dreams to make a living from being great at what they do.”

This year’s Art Unlimited wasn’t Mr Kunko’s first stint either. First entering the competition in 2016, and then again in 2020, Mr Kunko received a highly commended for a painting that was previously exhibited in a solo show ‘Thinking of an Old Friend’ at Maitland Regional Gallery NSW in 2020.

Local artist Melissa Kelly also took out a highly commended for the ACEN Australia Ceramics Prize at this year’s Dunedoo Art Unlimited, for her piece ‘Rabbit Woman I and II’.

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