‘I was trying to take the piss’ says $50,000 Glover Prize winner

Glover Prize
MEATY: Robert O’Connor, of Hobart, with his Glover Prize-winning work ‘Somewhere on the midlands’. Picture: Phillip Biggs

The winner of the $50,000 Glover Prize this year was “trying to take the piss” with his award-winning work of a leg of ham.

Somewhere on the midlands impressed the judges with its absurdity and comment on the impact of human settlement on the landscape, judge Chris Saines said.

But artist Robert O’Connor, who has been a finalist four times but never previously won, said he was trying to push the boundaries of acceptable works and “messed up” by winning.

“I can’t do anything right,” he said.

“It’s fun to paint a hunk of meat, it’s fun to try and disrupt a landscape prize by entering a hunk of meat into it – I was just trying to amuse myself.

“It should have gone to [Queenstown artist] Ray Arnold.”

O’Connor is from Hobart and exhibits frequently, often through the Bett Gallery.

He said he would spend the $50,000 prize money on sustaining himself while he created more artworks.

“I can put on an exhibition, but this will help me eat food – actual food,” he said.

Although he was still somewhat shell-shocked about the significant prize money while speaking to the media on Friday.

“I can’t imagine that much money, I’m sorry,” he said.

“I draw my own ‘Nike’ on my sneakers, I don’t know anything about fifty grand.”

Mr Saines, who judged the prize along with Fiona Lowry and Jarrod Rawlins, had a less humble view of the work.

“I think for all of us, [it won because of] that sense of wonderful absurdity, and brilliant painting,” he said.

“It’s self-deprecating, it’s finding humour in the way it’s addressing the landscape genre.

“I think it’s not just a one-liner, it makes us think a lot about the landscape we live in and what we’ve done to it since it’s been colonised.

“And a lot of artists have done work with meat, actually. Rembrandt did.”

Laura Patterson’s 2020 Pteridomania and Ileigh Hellier’s Without the other were also Highly Commended.

The Glover Prize exhibition of finalists is on at the Falls Park Pavilion, Evandale, until March 15.

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