Burwood artist takes home grand prize

38 EliseMartinson_toxic_art2014Local artist Elise Martinson has won the $6000 grand prize in the Art Toppling Tobacco competition, which aims to draw attention to the damaging effects of tobacco.

The winning entry titled ‘Toxic’ drew upon the negative impacts that smoking has on the environment, contributing to air, land and sea pollution and damaging vulnerable ecosystems.

Ms Martinson highlighted that a significant factor that led to her entering the competition was the damaging health effects that her grandfather suffered after decades of smoking.

“Personally, I am really against smoking but one of the main influences behind me getting involved was the negative health effects suffered by my grandpa who was a heavy smoker. He was a part of the generation that cigarettes were heavily marketed towards, but there was never any mention of the damage it would do to your body,” she said.

“However, it’s not just people who are being affected by smoking though as cigarettes are polluting the environment and causing extensive damage which I aimed to portray in my work.”

The grand final round of the competition was judged by Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, who commented that Ms Martinson’s work portrayed the despair and desolation of nicotine addiction and its seemingly endless capacity to capture its victims

Ms Martinson’s other work ‘A fresh start’ was also a winner of the semi-final round of the competition, judged by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore.

The idea behind the work was to create a more positive “quit smoking” campaign. The work shows a hand holding a flower instead of a cigarette against a stark red background, the flower being symbolic of fresh air whilst the stop-sign like red background signifying the end of a smoking habit.

The artwork has since been replicated in a remote Western Australian community in the hopes that it will inspire smokers to quit.

By David Barden

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