Emma Walker wins JADA at first attempt
MULLUMBIMBY artist Emma Walker was last week announced as the winner of the prestigious Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) at the Grafton Gallery.
This is the first time Ms Walker had entered the JADA, and the $20,000 award is one of the only substantial prizes for drawing in the country.
On the Friday night of the award she was making preparations for her sister's wedding and was not going to attend the ceremony.
"Then I got a call from the gallery strongly suggesting that I attend the award night, so I dropped everything and got to Grafton," she said.
"The JADA is a very important award. The recognition of my work is as important as winning the money.
"I have a very poor record at getting work ready on time for prizes and although I did not do this one for the JADA, I knew it was a good drawing.
"At the time I was in a really bad way emotionally and just took it out on the paper.
"Then I stepped back and realised that something was emerging - it looked like the flood I had been through when I lived at Keys Bridge."
Ms Walker is also a teacher at the Byron School of Art (BSA), and works in the competition by fellow teachers Michael Cusack and Christine Wilcocks were also acquired by the gallery.
Mr Cusack and Ms Wilcocks are currently studying on Australian Arts Council grants in Paris
"I love teaching. It gives me a chance to give back," she said.
"It's a positive process having to articulate your knowledge with a level of clarity and confidence and seeing the students' responses."
The BSA has just opened its new campus in Bangalow on the old hardware shop site.
"The school is going well. We have more students than we can enrol," she said.
"Having works by three artists acquired by the gallery is great for the school and a great coup for the Northern Rivers."
Ms Walker admits that it has been a tough few years for artists.
"Since the GFC the last couple of exhibitions have not sold as well," she said.
"When times are tough, art sort of drops off the shopping list and the current political caste are not interested in art at all."