Artist Billy Wilson, who is also a mentor at The Learning Connexion School of Creativity and Art, is the winner of this year’s Parkin Drawing Prize People’s Choice for his work ‘Mungyo’.
Created with oil pastel on kraft paper, Mungyo was praised by the public during the Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition in Wellington.
“Mungyo represents another experiment in my ongoing investigation of where art and architecture meet,” says Billy. “An 11th century carved stone relief by Pisano has become the starting point for a large scale surface of dense oil pastel that achieves a material weight in the gallery space.”
This is the fourth year in a row that Billy has been selected as a Parkin Drawing Prize finalist. He says winning the People's Choice award means a lot for him.
"I think most people go to a drawing award to see what they would recognise as a drawing. I think my work is accessible on that level, yet all of my concerns are contemporary. The Parkin Prize often polarises the idea of what a drawing is, and I get the feeling it leaves a lot of people confused. I'd quite like to bridge that gap, and this year's People's Choice could be affirmation of that."
Billy says Mungyo is more strongly figurative than his previous Parkin entries, and "emphasises a more classical skill set, which has its origins in architecture".
"Previous entries have used building as images, and this year I've zoomed in on the images that used to populate them. I chose an image that is very dense and frontal like a wall, so the layered oil pastel sits in the room with the viewer on a large scale. This relationship between the subjective and objective elements of art is what interests me."
Billy also studied at The Learning Connexion (TLC) after High School, and came back to complete Level 7 after a stint at university. He says TLC changed “everything” about his art.
“I remember after being at university (studying Fine Arts), I felt lost and disenchanted. I felt like I’d gained a lot of technical skills at TLC – like I’d really evolved a kind of language in terms of engagement with material and observational skills, and I think I went to university looking for something more conceptual, like food for thought.”
“But I didn’t really like the approach. So I was feeling a bit lost. At that time, I was mainly doing quite traditional art, lots of still lifes, landscapes and portraits. Then I went through Level 7 at TLC and everything kind of got turned upside down. I came out not doing much figurative stuff at all – working very much with materials, and processes; concerns that are now central to the more figurative parts of my practice."
Originally working mostly with paint, Billy has moved to other mediums in recent years, including charcoal. He used oil pastel to create Mungyo.
Want to learn from Billy? Read more about his work as a Distance Delivery mentor here.