Art Matters. Adrienne Hmelnitsky- The Power of Small Things

Our most recent experiences of grief, despair, isolation and change have been explored in the Small Sculptures Prize at Urunga Art Space.  The theme this year was ‘Genre – the Everyday’, giving sculptors plenty of room for interpretation, with remarkable and quite poignant results.

Adrienne Hmelnitsky’s winning piece ‘Loss’ exemplifies the very concept of art reflecting life, the ‘everyday’.  “Sculpture as a medium creates a different experience for the audience. The physicality in space demands an involvement and relationship between the viewer and the sculpture,” says Adrienne.

The Small Sculpture Prize at the Art Space is now in its third year, this year’s judges being David Tucker (Sculptor) and Cath Fogerty (Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery Director). Generous prize money from the Gallery’s major sponsors Urunga-Mylestom Chamber of Commerce, Affirmations Publishing House and Ocean View Hotel has meant that this year’s exhibition has attracted forty entrants and will run for four weeks, with the opportunity for viewers to vote in the People’s Choice Award.

We spoke with Adrienne about her influences and the events that motivated her winning piece.


Adrienne, your piece ‘Loss’ evokes a true sense of despair and loneliness. What event(s) inspired this work?

Initially the idea was in response to the cutting of the Arts sector in NSW, which left most artists feeling disappointed, devalued and ‘cut off ‘ to say the least. Then with the hit of the bush fires, followed by Covid, I realised the piece was representative of the impact of so many struggles faced at this or any time, by everyone, every day. Life can be hard and there is often the sense of loss that stops you in your tracks.


Can you explain the process of creating ‘Loss’?

I knew I wanted to carve a figurative piece to return to the carving process and the figure (having stepped away from this to make a series of work based on the environment over the last couple of years). I first made a maquette in plasticine to develop my idea of the still, seated figure. I chose to work with laminated birch plywood to experiment with its physical & aesthetic possibilities. The figure alone had a sense of the isolation and quiet but I felt the addition of the box to confine & contain it, brought more power to the narrative of the work. I chose cedar as a contrast in color and grain to the plywood.


All of the pieces are very powerful in this exhibition. Do you believe sculpture is a more powerful/evocative art form than 2-dimensional art forms?

Not necessarily, I think the power in any work is in its intent & integrity of skill and expression. However, sculptures do create a different experience for the audience. Their physicality in space demands an involvement and relationship with them.

I have trouble picking a preferred medium. For me drawing & sculpting go hand in hand & I love them both. My drawings tend to be more about capturing a moment, a quick response to the world around me, whereas my sculptures are of a more reflective and contemplative nature, with the process time allowing for ideas to be fully developed & realised.


The exhibition runs until September 23rd, running concurrently with The Art Space 12” X 12” 2D members exhibition, which adorns the gallery walls, complimenting the whole exhibition.

The Art Space Urunga.
13 Bonville St, Urunga.
Tues – Sun 10am – 4pm.


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