Former Rathkeale Senior College pupil Amelia Gordon, with her Level 1 and 2 NCEA art boards. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECEKE

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

She was a Prefect, House Leader, Viva Camerata choral singer, tramping club member and is now New Zealand’s top painting scholar for 2018.

On Friday, former St Matthews Collegiate and Rathkeale College pupil Amelia Gordon was named the country’s top painting scholarship award winner by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

The 18-year-old Masterton woman said she hadn’t realised scholarships results had gone online or that she had won until she started receiving messages of congratulations from friends.

“I actually didn’t realise it was out. It didn’t really click.”

She said she never thought it was possible and thought it must be a mistake.

“[I thought] I didn’t apply for this scholarship.”

It was the $2000 scholarship at the bottom of the page which finally made Gordon realise.

Just nine people in the country received an outstanding painting scholar award while 82 received painting scholarships. Gordon was top of the former.

Applying for a painting scholarship is an arduous journey for pupils involving many hours of work. They must submit a three-panel art board accompanied by eight A3 pages of notes and research showing the pupils have followed “established practice”. Gordon estimates she spent more than 400 hours on the scholarship piece.

“I did the last painting in like a day and a half.”

She drew inspiration from notable artists Pierre-August Renoir and William Blake, and sculptors like Anthony Gormley and Takiarangi Smith.

“A lot of my work is based off sculptors,” she said.

Gordon was previously awarded excellences for both her NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 art boards. Last year she was awarded Top of Painting at Senior College.

The school has a history of painting scholarship successes.

In 2014 another Rathkeale College student, Misa Yamada, was named the country’s top painting scholarship award winner.

Gordon attributed her success to the small classroom sizes and attention of her art teacher, Evan Jones.

“Mr Jones is good because he’s always willing to talk about your art.”

She said she had enjoyed watching other classmates’ boards come together over the year and getting to know them better.

“It’s incredible because you spend all this time painting with other people and getting to know them – it’s not like in other classes. It’s cool seeing their boards develop. The boards reflect the artists – they’re so personal.”

Gordon said she wasn’t sure she wanted to study art in the academic sense but would keep up with her painting.

She plans to defer her scholarship and take the year off while she decides what she wants to do next.