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Chancellor’s Art Prize winner explores Lismore’s natural spaces


Media and Content team
10 December 2021

Bachelor of Art and Design student Amelia Hughes has won the Southern Cross University Chancellor’s Art Prize, an annual acquisition award for excellence in contemporary visual art.

Amelia’s body of work, titled ‘what do we do with ourselves once the buildings are gone?’ is a seven-piece black and white film essay series representing the importance of place. The ‘places and spaces’ were captured around Lismore, and will find a home in the University’s growing collection, that has a focus on works of significance for Southern Cross and the region.

“I have captured intimate, desolate, and quiet natural spaces, to investigate the sentimentalities we hold to the natural landscapes around us. I chose to capture areas that are familiar to me. The more personal the space is, the more intimate the image becomes,” said Amelia.

 The piece began as residents of Lismore experienced the first COVID lockdown. It took six months of building on the concept, reflection, and working in diptychs. The series explores the possibility of faults and loss, also drawing on the previous flooding in the region.

“There have been a few times when I have captured natural spaces which have then been cleared or wiped out in floodwaters, these images became a still capture of something now gone,” she said.

The selection panel included Southern Cross University’s Chancellor Sandra McPhee AM, Course Coordinator of the Bachelor of Art and Design degree, Marian Tubbs, and Northern Rivers artist Laith McGregor.

When announcing the winner, Chancellor Sandra McPhee AM said, “there were so many great pieces from our students this year. The body of work that Amelia created shares an intimate connection with Lismore, which is not only the beautiful place where our students come to learn but also a hub for creativity and the arts.”

“It’s an honour to have Amelia’s work grow Southern Cross University’s Art Collection and to be able to provide an ongoing opportunity for the exhibition of her artwork,” she said.

When Amelia heard she had won the $2,500 acquisition prize, she felt it was the perfect way to conclude her studies as she approaches graduation.

“It feels like a major acknowledgment of all the hard work and emotion I poured into this final body of work. This award gives me the opportunity to comfortably continue my practice, which I am extremely grateful for! It has made me hopeful for my future in the art world,” she said.

Next year, Amelia plans to move up north to Brisbane for a new challenge and creative reset.

“Hopefully, a new place will inspire a new perspective. I plan to organise some group shows next year, collaborating with peers and other graduates,” she said.

“The Northern Rivers and Lismore holds such a significant place in my heart, and I will be back many times. I don't think I could ever let go of this truly amazing place, and its equally as amazing community,” said Amelia. 

Congratulations to Amelia and all of the students that submitted incredible work. You can read more about studying the Bachelor of Art and Design here.


Media contact: Southern Cross University Media and content team, [email protected]