Talented Year 13 artist Katie Lee was delighted when her artwork ‘Welcome to Casino World’ placed third in the recent Wallace Secondary School Art Awards. But she was even more thrilled to discover that Sir James Wallace (founder of this annual award) had asked to purchase the piece for his collection.
Sir James has been collecting New Zealand art since the mid-1960s and is the man behind one of this country’s most important art collections. Suffice to say that Katie, whose main goal in entering the competition was to “let people see my work and feel what I intended,” has undoubtedly achieved her objective.
The creative eighteen-year-old spent more than two months working on the piece, which was a personal project rather than a part of her ACG coursework portfolio. Titled ‘Welcome to Casino World’ it reflects the seemingly glamorous, but ultimately destructive world of gambling.
“My work has a three-dimensional effect and expresses not only the splendour of gambling but the darkness within it,” says Katie, who enjoys using her art to shine a spotlight on social issues. “Gambling seems fancy, but it is highly addictive, and it is ruining lives all over the world at the moment.”
The incredibly intricate drawing represents both Eastern and Western perspectives, and every carefully considered detail has a specific meaning, providing its own individual story. The artwork features numerous animals, Chinese characters and symbols well known in the gambling world through games such as blackjack and mah-jong.
Katie often spends several hours each day working on various pieces and ideas and honing her craft. Described by her teachers as an exceptional young lady, the gifted teen will soon be heading to university to further her studies, with the eventual aim of attending art school in England.
The future looks bright for Katie, who is certain that art will always play a significant role in her life – featuring prominently in both her future career plans and as an adored pastime.
“I think of art as my best friend, and I find it offers an incredible opportunity to share my message and communicate with people on a deeper level.”