North Coast artist Seabastion Toast has won the 2023 Portia Geach People’s Choice Award with her portrait of fellow artist Karlee Rawkins.

The $1,000 People’s Choice at the Portia Geach exhibition at the S.H. Ervin Gallery is given in memory of Harry & Winifred Macorison by Dr Heather Macorison & Ms Hilary Macorison.

Seabastion Toast lives and works on the NSW North Coast and among her achievements has recently won the $10,000 D’arcy Doyle Portrait Prize and is regularly a finalist in many prominent art prizes.

Toast’s paintings embody a very physical approach to the subject, with layers built up, scraped down and obscured. Toast has a degree in Fine Art from Southern Cross University, in addition to an exchange to the Pratt Institute in New York.

‘I am increasingly interested in the very act of looking and attempting to record this process through paint. Perception is not fixed, and, like shifting conditions in light, focus and atmosphere, I chase the ethereal to gain a greater understanding of how we exist.

“Process driven, painting for me has never been about making pretty pictures, but rather a way of learning to see. I am interested in creating paintings that encourage the viewer to take time to look, to slow time. In world where things are often increasing in speed, stopping to spend time with an artwork seems to be one of the most important things we can do.’

On her work, HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN-  ‘My decision to paint Karlee Rawkins was driven by a unique convergence of time and place. Over two decades ago, we embarked on our undergraduate journey together, forging the foundations of our artistic paths. While life led us down different roads, fate has brought us back to the same community once more.

“In creating this portrait, I sought to capture the essence of Karlee’s world—a world illuminated by the winter light streaming through the windows of her home in the lush hinterlands of the mid-north coast.

“This play of light and nature serves as a symbolic representation of her work, which delves into the profound connections between wildlife, nature, and the human psyche.

“Rawkins’ life is a harmonious juxtaposition of intelligence, thoughtfulness, and responsibilities of motherhood. Amid the chaos of family life, she radiates a meditative serenity, an unwavering devotion to her craft always at the forefront of her mind. Her life and art are inseparable, a testament to her enduring commitment.

“I have attempted to capture a small part of the rich tapestry of Karlee Rawkins’ life and career through this painting—a portrait of an inspiring friend and an extraordinary artist at a profoundly enriching point in her journey.”

Seabastion expressed her surprise and delight at being announced the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Seabastion Toast is represented by Anthea Polson Art.

Featured image : Seabastion Toast with leading Australian artist Wendy Sharpe