California Gully artist Simon Penrose has been honoured for a second time at the 2012 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards, after being voted the winner of the $2,500 Arts Victoria People's Choice Award.
Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu said Simon's portrait photograph of his nephew, entitled Eyes Are The Windows To The Soul, had been voted the crowd favourite among the 27 works shortlisted for the Victorian Government's Victorian Indigenous Art Awards.
The People's Choice win follows Simon's win at the Awards ceremony on 9 March, where he received the $5,000 CAL Victorian Indigenous Art Award for Works on Paper.
Mr Baillieu congratulated Simon on his stunning work and on his double win at this year's awards.
"Simon calls himself an amateur, but this recognition shows that he is a natural artist," Mr Baillieu said.
"It's one thing to be recognised by experts in the field, but it is another to create work that also resonates so strongly with the general public, and that is a great achievement."
Simon, 25, is a self-taught photographer who works as a mental health worker at the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-Op. He has been taking photographs for the last five years and the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards marked the first time his work had been exhibited outside of Bendigo.
Simon follows in the footsteps of the 2011 winner of the Arts Victoria People's Choice Award, Eileen Ballangarry. The inaugural winner of the award, Eileen is also from California Gully.
The Victorian Indigenous Art Awards are a Victorian Government initiative designed to raise the profile of Victorian Indigenous art and build career opportunities for Indigenous artists across the State.
The 2012 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards exhibition continues until 31 March 2012 at the awards partner gallery fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. People from outside Melbourne can view the works featured in this year's exhibition via the Arts Victoria website www.arts.vic.gov.au/peopleschoice