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A big congratulations to our artist Steve Lopes for winning the 2018 Gallipoli Art Prize. Steve has won with a beautiful painting Exposed Wood, Mont St Quentin.
The taking of Mont St Quentin on the Western Front is regarded as one of Australia's finest efforts during World War I.
A century on, a landscape painting of the overgrown battlefield has been chosen as this year's winner of the Gallipoli Art Prize.
The man behind the winning painting, Sydney artist Steve Lopes, visited the site last year and was captivated by its atmosphere.
However his image, which was announced the winner in a ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday, is far removed from the bloody battle that took place at the site almost 100 years ago.
"The place particularly resonated with me because it seemed like it was quite forgotten," Lopes said after winning the award.
"It was amongst a village in St Quentin and it was just off to where the memorial was.
"It was fenced off and you could see remnants of the trenches, there were sort of little bits of debris floating around which reminded me, I guess, of the spirit of the soldiers who fought there.
"They were asked to charge up and shout like bushrangers and they took the German position which was quite instrumental in ending World War I.
"It showed the Australian spirit.
"For me it held a lot of significance too because my wife's great uncle fought on the Western Front, so I wanted to explore that for my kids."
In 1918, Mont St Quentin was the German Army's last stronghold — a strategic observation point looking across the Somme Valley.
During a three-day tussle and with little artillery support, three Australian divisions advanced up the hill, with the Australian Imperial Force eventually suffering 3,000 casualties.
The victory is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of any army during the war.
"For me, 100 years on, it was really poignant that you consider, on the other side of the world, what these Australian soldiers did in the fight for democracy."
Lopes has exhibited his work nationally and overseas over the past 20 years.
His works are held in major public and private collections including the National Gallery of Australia and the Time Warner Collection in New York.
His start came as a court artist for newspapers including the Daily Telegraph and The Australian when he was a teenager.
"It was a really good base to start from as an artist at the newspapers, and I think I've kept that element of humanness in the work," he said.
Chairman of the Gallipoli Art Prize John Robertson said the winning painting was a fitting tribute.
"All of the things that we were looking for — respect, loyalty, love of country, courage, comradeship — are all reflected in that battle of Mont St Quentin and particularly in Steve's work," Mr Robertson said
Now in its 14th year, the Gallipoli Art Prize is also attracting the next generation of artists looking to preserve the ANZAC spirit.
Katie Gillgren, 16, from the NSW town of Liverpool entered her work Life, Death and Remembrance, which was chosen as one of the finalists.
It was the first time she had entered her art in a competition.
"My artwork is what I interpret about Gallipoli," the teenager said. "The poppies with the soldier and the sunset. I got inspiration off a picture online and I sort of just took it my own way."
A depiction of artillery practice at Sydney's North Head The Fox and the Night Cannon Men by Craig Hadley, and a Rodney Pople's representation of the Goulburn War Memorial were highly commended by the judges.
The 33 finalists are on display until April 27.