Award-winning artist inspired by political activism
A FORMER Rockhampton artist sources his creativity observing Aboriginal activism which has led him to taking out one of Australia's most prestigious art awards.
Richard Bell, who spent two years in the Beef Capital as a child, was announced on Saturday night as the winner of the Rockhampton Art Gallery Gold Award 2018.
Mr Bell, who lived on a farm outside Rockhampton between the age of 11 and 12 years, attended Park Avenue State School.
His award-winning acrylic and sand on canvas piece, called Untitled 2018 explores the artistic and political problems which are faced by Western, colonial and Indigenous art production.
Talking with The Morning Bulletin yesterday at the gallery, Richard said his discussions with activists over the years have been "the basis of my research for my art practice”.
"I'd ran into political activists in Sydney and I ended up hanging around with them - they had the best discussions going on in the community,” he said.
"The extent of my political activism is turning up to their marches and listening to them talk.”
Mr Bell's works address an array of topics which include Aboriginal issues, the Australian immigration policy and neo-liberalism.
"We've enabled humanity to live for thousands of years, capitalism has only been around for a couple of hundred years - they're about to destroy us,” Mr Bell said.
Reflecting back on his young days in Central Queensland, he recalled his fondest memories from his time here.
"I found it was very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter,” Mr Bell said.
"There were a lot of bikes; this was a biking town and I remember there was a very strong Labor Party here too.”
After leaving the Beef Capital as a young man, he moved across the state to towns such as Charleville and Mitchell, before he finally finished his schooling in Dalby.
And before he knew it, Mr Bell would see himself arrive in Sydney where he stayed for 10 years before later moving to Brisbane.
And he has now been a Brisbane resident for the past 17 years where he has since concentrated on his artistry and raising his children.
In 2001, Mr Bell told himself it was his time to focus on his career.
"What I have a passion for is where art takes us, where it allows us to go,” Mr Bell said.
"We can live without sport, but we can't live without art (music, singing, dancing, storytelling, reading books).”
Mr Bell was one of nine Australian artists who were invited to enter their works in The Gold Award 2018.
The former Rockhampton resident took out the prestigious prize, which is one of the richest in the country.
His acrylic and sand on canvas piece, called Untitled 2018 explores the artistic and political problems which are faced by Western, colonial and Indigenous art production.
He went up against Tony Albert, Dale Frank, Richard Lewer, Jan Nelson, Bundit Puangthong, Paul Ryan, Huseyin Sami and Gemma Smith for the award.
The Gold Award 2018 will be on display at Rockhampton Art Gallery from August 18 to October 7. There will be free entry for visitors.
For more details visit www.rockhamptonartgallery.