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Landscape artist awarded Brett Whiteley art scholarship


Sharlene King, media office at Southern Cross University
4 November 2020
Four wheel drive vehicle with several artworks leaning on it parked beside a lake
Emily Imeson's work in the Painted Desert of far north South Australia (credit: Emily Imeson).

The vivid and expressive landscapes of plein air painter Emily Imeson, a Southern Cross University graduate, have captured the attention of Australia’s art world.

Emily and four other young Australian artists have been named joint winners of the 2020 Brett Whiteley Travelling Artists Scholarship.

Along with $10,000 prize money each, they will spend a two-week residency at Kangaroo Valley in the NSW Southern Highlands later this month (November 16 to 29) where they will be mentored by some of Australia's leading artists including Ben Quilty, also a former Brett Whiteley scholarship winner.

“Being a recipient of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Artists Scholarship 2020 is a great complement to my emerging practice,” Emily said. “Not only will it provide opportunities to develop and evolve as an artist, the support and encouragement is unparalleled.

“It is hard to express my gratitude, I have been working towards this goal for many years. The artists associated with this award have been a great inspiration, as the art of Brett Whiteley will always be. I am grateful to be recognised as a worthy scholar. Thank you, Lucy Culliton, Wendy Whiteley, the Art Gallery of NSW, and the Brett Whiteley Studio.”

Follow Emily Imeson on Instagram

Normally the prestigious Brett Whiteley Travelling Artists Scholarship goes to one young Australian artist to further their art education in Europe but with borders closed by COVID-19 the judges were forced to adapt the 2020 program. The annual art prized was established by Whiteley's mother Beryl in 1999, in memory of her son.

Emily describes spending the past two years “living a nomadic lifestyle, traversing much of this vast Country,” drawing inspiration from each state and territory, learning and exploring diverse landscapes, and using the outdoors as her studio.

Currently camping in Southern NSW she is finalising her next solo show ‘Ancient River, River Red’ at Saint Cloche Gallery in Sydney’s Paddington for January 2021.

Growing up in Tamworth and Lismore, Emily believes spending “spare moments in the surrounding environment has developed a great appreciation for the Australian land and life it sustains”.

She has been honing her practice for almost a decade.

Emily’s work features in the Macquarie Group Collection after the corporate bank acquired her painting Alive in the dead of night as part of its 2019 Macquarie Group Emerging Artist Prize.

Soon after graduating from Southern Cross University in 2016, she was recognised by Create NSW with a Young Regional Artists Scholarship.

Dr Wes Hill, course coordinator of the Bachelor of Art and Design, said Emily’s success was a wonderful achievement.

“It’s testament to Emily’s hard work and commitment to her practice, as well as to the outstanding quality of teaching here at Southern Cross University. Her lecturers, including myself, are very proud.”


Artist statement by Emily Imeson for the Brett Whiteley Travelling Artists Scholarship

Experience, memory, and knowledge of the land inspires me and provides an understanding of the evolutionary connections between humanity and nature. Set in foundations of ‘en plein air’ painting, my practice later works with sensory recollections to provide distortions of visual representations. Through these abstractions I am seeking new perspectives; of painting, of the land, and how humans interact with the world that sustains them.


Exhibition: 2020 Brett Whiteley Travelling Artists Scholarship Finalists

View the work of all the finalists, including Emily Imeson, at the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills until 15 November.