World No Tobacco Day Grand Final 2015 View Submissions 2014 View Submissions 2013 View Submissions 2012 View Submissions 2011 View Submissions 2010

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Judge’s Comments
Des Crawley
Emeritus Professor
Honorary Fellow, AIPP.

I have a close relative who is dying from the effects of 50 years of cigarettes. He is addicted to tobacco. It has ruled his life, kept him poor and now has destroyed his health. He has emphysema, lives in a secure care centre which rations him his daily dose of cigarettes and, such is his addiction, he has been known to rummage through the waste bins of this care centre looking for cigarette butts that he can re-shape to feed his body.

In the last three years he has had a quadruple bypass, gall bladder operation, and teeth replaced that have been destroyed by nicotine. He sits in the sun on good days strapped to an oxygen bottle but will remove the mask to have a drag on the next cigarette.

The financial cost of cigarettes has meant that he has gone without food so as to have another puff. He has been told many times by medical staff that he must stop. He cannot. It is beyond him. He has said on a number of occasions, when I have pleaded with him to stop, he would rather die than give up smoking. He will. The cigarette is killing him. It is killing him slowly, painfully and without remorse. He knows this and just looks at me with cigarette in his hand and a vacant smile filled with resignation. He speaks of the mate-ship, of the past, that came with having a smoke and a beer with friends after a days fishing or hunting or, at work when he was able to get a job. But, now, when he writes to me it is all about regret, remorse and profound sorrow.

He is addicted, he needs help but when it is offered the pain and stress linked to withdrawal is such that it is medically better for him to be placed in a centre where his addiction can be maintained under some form of supervision. He is being fed poison but in a rationed form so as to ensure that the stress of a total cessation of tobacco does not traumatise the rest of his now frail physical and mental self. He has no weight. He is skin and bone. The flesh is stretched taut across his body and the damaged teeth have all been removed and replaced by dentures. He does not eat much.

So, it is with very mixed feelings that I approached this task of assessing what artists have said about tobacco. I have tried to put aside my own personal experiences, my own life story of living in a home of heavy smokers, of being a teacher and seeing 8-10 year olds flirt with tobacco down behind the toilet block, of being a photographer and working with models that try to keep themselves thin by popping pills intermixed with cigarettes to suppress appetites, of the young and the not so young begging for money for a cigarette on the streets of London, Rome, New York, Paris as well as Sydney. Not a lot of romance and glamour and cachet in that-only the exploitation by experts of human folly, foible and frailty.

Art and artists have a responsibility to question, to pose and confront the real and ordinary world with questions, with what ifs, with why is it so and thus challenge prevailing sensibilities. There is little that I can see that is positive about the tobacco industry. It is a relic of another era and the sooner it is toppled the better. It has brought nothing but heartache to my family, to the many of my students caught within its seductive web and the social and medical cost to our society is incalculable.

The entries this year commented in their own way on many of the above sentiments. Most entries spoke to the issues with vigour, creativity and expression. In assessing the work I sought out entries that had high levels of emotional appeal that evoked a real sense of the nature of the dynamics involved in starting to smoke or trying to quit. This narrative was important to me because I feel it is the tipping point. People think they can stop, some do, most cannot. I wanted work that spoke to this seduction and yet offered some sense of hope, some sense of urgency and some sense that the viewer can/could identify with the victim of tobacco.

1st PLACE - - Photography Category

- Bonnie McPherson- VIC.

  • The winning image is elegant, graphic, surreal but laced with a mixture of poignancy and rich narrative. The portrait is haunting for its blend of distorted beauty that speaks to the corruption of tobacco but yet its luminosity offers hope. The dead eyes haunt, the delicate fingers trace the familiar pattern of the relationship between cigarette and hand. The key of this photograph signals an ethereal quality, the ‘high’ that comes from nicotine and yet, the dead eyes stop you and make you think of the consequences of flirtation with tobacco. This is a rich image, totally consistent with the objectives of the competition and possesses significant commercial relevance as a promotion piece for the dangers of smoking.

    2nd PLACE - - Literature Category

    - Graham Pearcey QLD.

  • The second entry relates a narrative, a superbly crafted short story that links early experiences with cigarettes to a character that was single minded in his agenda to stop people smoking. The interaction between them - the memories that interaction now generates - reflects, in many ways, the life experiences of us all. We can identify with people who have influenced us in terms of cigarettes and their consumption. A human tale told with a delightful light, nostalgic touch.

    3rd PLACE - - Art Category

    - Karsten Stier- VIC.

  • The third place entry is a sketch. This is a portrait that could be straight from a Conrad story of the man with the nutcracker face. A sparse sketch where the use of graphic elements of colour and line, of shape and focal point draw the viewer into the subject’s desperate face. This is a tired face, one that has been consumed by tobacco and the futility of attempts to stop. The narrative here is age-old and one that any smoker seeking to stop can relate to for its gaunt and wizened expression. The colour palette is a metaphor for the interplay of nicotine and lung. The figure - ground leaching away to smoky emptiness is a judicious framing device.

    I found the overall standard of the work submitted was high and wish ArtTopplingTobacco every success with its future efforts.

    Des Crawley 1st November, 2012.


    Kevin(Age 16) CANADA.
    TITLE: Lungs

  • An exceptional piece that is impressive in concept and execution. A wonderful and thought provoking artwork that leaves a simple but strong message. It is clear that the artist had a good grasp of the impact of cigarette smoking not only on a personal level but on the community. I was impressed with the three dimensional aspect of the work and felt this added extra texture to the piece. The artwork was also shot very creatively which enhanced the themet. The placement of materials used opens up a myriad of interpretations, such as rows of the dead and tomb stones. I especially like the idea of the overall silhouette as a death marked out in a crime scene.

    Congratulations to Kevin. A well deserved winner. I look forward to seeing more work from this young artist in the future and I am pleased that this competition could provide him a vehicle to show his talents to the rest of the world.

    Kristine Ballard Director of the Northshore School of Art

    2012 Submissions Gallery







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