HOBART artist and University of Tasmania lecturer Neil Haddon has won this year’s $100,000 Hadley’s Art Prize for his depiction of British author H.G Wells cycling through a Tasmanian landscape.
The winning piece is a textural painting on contrasting surfaces, alluding to Wells’ novel ‘The War of the Worlds.’
The novel has particular meaning to Mr Haddon, who grew up in Surrey, England, where Wells found inspiration for his book.
Wells visited Australia in the 1930s, but never made it to Tasmania.
Mr Haddon’s has drawn on Mr Wells’ experiences in his piece, entitled ‘The Visit.’
“Wells was a keen cyclist,” Mr Haddon said.
“As he rode, he planned The War of the Worlds, imagining the extermination of the human race by aliens.
“Wells also alludes the attempted genocide of Aboriginal Tasmanians in the opening paragraphs of this book.”
Now in its second year, the Hadley’s Art Prize attracted an unprecedented 640 entries – almost double the submissions from its inaugural year.
The award is believed to be the world’s most lucrative landscape art award.
Judge Jane Stewart, who is the principal curator at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, said despite long deliberations, the judges were united in their decision to award Haddon the prize.
Fellow judge Clothilde Bullen said the work had many “intriguing elements.”
“The blue targets hover like eyes gazing at the audience, while simultaneously providing a portal into the landscape,” she said.
“The artist’s distinctive, refined technique indicates a point of resolution in his practice that is well worthy of this prize.”
The finalist’s exhibition, opening to the public soon, will be showcased in custom-designed gallery spaces that have been fully fitted to accommodate contemporary art, while respecting the heritage of Hadley’s Orient Hotel.
Caption: Artist Neil Haddon with his award-winning artwork ‘The Visit.’