Meet the Winner of the Max Webber Library ‘DRAW IT’ Competition

Published on 11 April 2018

The Max Webber Library took a slight deviation from its usual youth Summer Reading Program this year, hosting an art competition instead. Young people aged 13-18 were encouraged to submit a piece of artwork that reflected their favourite literary character, theme or story. Inspired by her Year 12 English studies, Blacktown student Kelly Harkness took on George Orwell’s sci-fi classic, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Straight off the bat, you can tell Kelly Harkness is a well-practised artist. With a style that is vibrant and self-assured, her use of felt-tips indicates a real level of commitment; there’s no turning back once you’ve put pen to paper. There’s also an admirable consistency in her artwork which you might not expect from a 17-year-old.

As a high school student in her HSC year, Kelly has a wealth of inspiration to draw from, although her favourite school subjects show an enthusiasm for learning beyond the classroom.

“Society and Culture has been a subject that I have adored for the duration of my senior course,” Kelly says. She notes that she particularly enjoys the classroom activity as it offers an “open ground for discussion and debate which allow several perspectives to be heard and valued.”

It becomes clear that freedom of expression is very important to Kelly – both as a student and as an artist. In fact, it is the dystopian world depicted in British novelist George Orwell’s iconic Nineteen Eighty-Four (which was first published in 1949 and has recently seen a marked spike in sales), and the plight of its main character to overcome oppression that most interests her.

Kelly’s passion for learning about and experiencing other cultures and society has led her to develop a keen interest in Japan. She takes a language class, ‘Japanese Beginners’, and has been lucky enough to practice her proficiency first hand on a school trip to Japan.

The Japanese cartoon styles anime and manga have had a clear influence on Kelly’s work, although you would not call her work derivative. She manages to combine several familiar styles and is certainly channelling WWII propaganda cartoonists in her winning piece.

When asked what the future holds, Kelly says she appreciates the opportunity to ponder the different roads in front of her. As well as wishing to spend time abroad, she hopes to undertake a degree in animation or illustration, “and maybe a second degree in Theatre Studies, working on animation/storyboard projects,” she says. Considering the scope of her burgeoning portfolio and the sheer frequency with which she releases work online, it’s likely we’ll be seeing more of her art in years to come.

To help celebrate the event, Westpoint jumped on board, donating three prizes to a handful of lucky entrants. The centre will be exhibiting the artworks in celebration of Youth Week which runs from Monday 16 April to Sunday 29 April. The display will be held on Level 3 between Factorie and Cotton On, so come in and check out some local artistic talent.