Penrith provides perfect backdrop for top Castlereagh artist

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Castlereagh artist Julie Simmons has won big at the 27th Combined Art Societies of Sydney (CASS) ‘Art of Sydney’ Awards Exhibition.

Ms Simmons said she was very surprised and honoured to have her art recognised after being awarded two Highly Commended and a Commended for her work.

This year however, the student became the master to take home the top prize.

“Strangely enough, one of my students won first place, so that was a bit odd,” she laughed.

“She’s a very hard worker… she’s been coming to me for three years, so I was very chuffed for her.”

The exhibition is a showcase of Sydney’s talented local artists as it encompasses the whole of Sydney’s art society.

“Regardless of how prestigious the show is, it’s always really exciting to win a prize,” Ms Simmons said.

She has been an artist her whole life, starting as a commercial artist before focusing on motherhood and working in pottery for a few years.

Today, she paints full-time and is constantly in awe of the beauty that surrounds her in the western Sydney region.

“I paint along Castlereagh Road constantly. You could paint from here at Castlereagh, to Penrith and Richmond for a year and you’d never get sick of the subject,” she said.

“It’s all about the light, regardless of what the subject is, it’s all about the way light plays on the subject.

“Sometimes you’ll be driving along and you just think, ‘wow’ and you need to stop.”

Ms Simmons’ best advice to artists who are just starting out or might be unsure of their work is to be true to yourself.

“Work hard and be who you are, don’t try and copy other people and do what they do,” she said.

“You’ve got to find your own voice, your own brush, your own style.”

The CASS exhibition is free to attend and open this Australia Day long weekend at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, with funds raised going towards CareFlight.

Ms Simmons is also holding her current exhibition, Duet Dolce II, at the Breathing Colours Gallery in Balmain until February 12.

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