Nour Hassan’s painting, ‘Beat’, was judged the best among 87 mixed media entries at Hāwera’s Lysaght Watt Trust awards on May 3.
The theme this year was ‘Rising’, and Hassan, of Auckland, submitted a picture of a woman’s face coming out of the water.
“I just drove down as I wanted to be part of my first exhibition, so it feels pretty awesome and really surreal to have won this,” she said.
“I didn’t know I’d won it till I got here today.”
She said the painting is part of a series and the inspiration came from her own relationship with water.
Hassan took up painting because she wanted her work to connect to people.
The awards have been running since 2013 and Lysaght Watt Gallery chairperson Lynne Walker said they usually attracted around 70 entries.
She put this year’s increase in numbers down to the ‘Rising’ theme.
“It’s a theme which obviously appealed to a wide range of people as we’ve had entries from Dunedin right through to Northland,” she said.
Judge Bill Millbank, from Whanganui, choose the winners of six categories, which included both 3D and 2D awards as well as best local artist award.
A final category, the people’s choice award, will be chosen by people who attend the gallery exhibition, which runs from May 4 until June 10.
Millbank said women and their struggles was a common theme in a lot of the work and making the final decision wasn’t easy.
“A good 20 or 30 of the works stood out almost immediately,” he said.
“There were some very good paintings and works but in the end the you have to make a personal choice and the one that spoke to me the most won out.
“Although I’m not sure everyone will agree with my selection as it’s extremely subjective.”
Walker also announced the theme for the 2019 competition will be ‘Time Out’.