Mandurah artist Hilly Coufreur has been named the winner of the 2018 Margaret River Art Prize as part of the annual Margaret River Art Auction.
Selected by judges ahead of the annual auction, which will be held at the Margaret River Education Campus on Saturday October 27, Mrs Coufreur’s ‘Gumtrees’ was selected from an impressive list of entries in this year’s competition.
“The judges had such a difficult task with the level of art presented being among the highest we have seen,” said a spokesperson.
Mrs Coufreur gave up her day job as a library assistant in 2011, after her four children had flown the nest.
“I felt I was at a cross roads in my life,” she explained.
“After being at home for a month, my artist husband gave me some of his paints and canvas to play with. I resisted at first as I didn’t think I had any artistic talent.”
After joining a local art society in New Zealand, she said she “accidentally” discovered abstract art.
“I had some leftover paint which I smeared on a canvas at random and I loved the abstract result!”
Mrs Coufreur moved to Australia in 2013, where she continued experimenting with abstract styles and bright colours.
“In 2016 I was an artist in residence at the CASM gallery in Mandurah. This space allowed me to work on larger canvas and find my ‘style’.”
Inspired by the earthy landscapes of her new home state, the artist said she followed a similar process with most of her paintings but that she never used any brushes.
“Recurring themes in my work are gumtrees, wetlands and the ocean. I paint with emotion to what I see in the landscape with color, line and texture.
“I am a very impatient and messy artist, I am usually busy on several canvasses at a time! I start with an undercoat, and this involves water and paint and splashing.
“Sometimes I wait for it to dry, other times I go straight working into the wet paint with palette knife.
“My worktable and floor are full with works drying, some waiting for another layer, others ready to varnish.”
Mrs Coufreur said her husband Jos was her greatest inspiration.
“My strongest influence is my husband Jos Coufreur – his passion and drive to paint is extraordinary. His use of colour, his mark making inspires me no end.
“Another inspiration when I first started painting was the German painter Gerhard Richter. The way he applies the paint with a giant squeegee started me on my abstract journey.”
The painting secured a $2,500 prize for Ms Coufreur’s efforts, thanks to a generous sponsorship from Bendigo Bank.
“They really are all about community, and we are thankful for their support.”
The 13th Annual Margaret River Art Auction supporting the Margaret River Independent School will be held at the South Regional TAFE Barrel Room on Saturday October 27 from 6pm.
For tickets and information visit www.facebook.com/AnnualMargaretRiverArtAuction