A fresh perspective from some new artists and a special guest judge will make this year’s Central Otago Art Society Alexandra Blossom Festival art exhibition “even more interesting”, community arts leaders say.

The annual exhibition, which opens to the public today, features more than 150 works by about 60 artists.

Society vice-president and exhibition secretary Melanie Eade said this year there were “a number of new artists” and more from outside of Central Otago, “so good to see new blood and will hopefully make for an even more interesting exhibition”.

This year’s guest judge is Gregory O’Brien, one of two Henderson House artists in residence in Alexandra, this year. O’Brien holds the residency jointly with his writer wife, Jenny Bornholdt.

The physical environment in Central is so assertive and visually fascinating. – Guest judge Gregory O’Brien

O’Brien said judging the competition presented “a good opportunity to examine, and contemplate at length, how artists currently working in Central Otago go about engaging with this place – and how they revisit and reinvent this landscape”.

“Having spent nine months at the Henderson House in Alexandra, Jen and I have begun to get a sense of the character and energy of the region. It’s a powerful but also a demanding place to make art. I expect landscape will be a major presence in the [art society] exhibition. The physical environment in Central is so assertive and visually fascinating. It’s tough and primordial, visceral and ‘unlovely’, in the best sense of the world.”

Central Otago arts co-ordinator Rebekah de Jong said the society was fortunate “to have someone with such a depth of experience in New Zealand art available to judge the blossom festival exhibition. O’ Brien is an adventurer and a renaissance man who, interestingly, often practises his art and writing in collaboration with other significant New Zealand artists”.

As well as judging this year’s exhibition, O’Brien will be a guest artist, alongside Dunedin artists Inge Doesburg and Danny Moorwood.

The Central Otago Art Society Alexandra Blossom Festival exhibition runs at the Alexandra Community Centre until September 28.Running sport mediaNike Shoes