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The Patricia Farrar Award for Painting


As many will know, Patricia Farrar was a beloved and inspirational student of OCA whose work covered rich ground including identity, migration, bright colour, gardens, education, drawing in painting, Australia and sound.

As Programme Leader for Painting I feel personally that Patricia would have had a continued influence on OCA as an alumni and I have tried to preserve that influence by instigating an award at OCA in her memory and as an ongoing inspiration. The award is given to a student annually who embodied something of Patricia’s spirit and creative concerns.

Throughout the year at each assessment point any tutor can nominate a student for consideration. In December of each year a panel from the staff team will consider each nominated portfolio of creative work and select a winner.

I am very pleased to inform you that OCA level 3 student Natalya Griffin was selected as the 2021 winner of this prize in December. This is a book prize, with texts chosen to suit the individual awardee.

Howard Farrar (Patricia’s husband) and the rest of Patricia’s family have been informed and have seen examples of her delightful work.

Natalya’s interest in Mycology and in particular the mycelium network has been at once both outstandingly expansive and deeply intimate. She says “I researched Mushroom biology, historical implications, and even Mushroom cults in ancient civilizations. I walked longer and imagined invisible networks between all people and events that run in the air and below the ground, through space and time”.

Natalya’s work is sometimes tricky to appreciate digitally, you do need to click to expand! There are layers of substrate, materials, meaning and process. As Natalya says; “Layers and reused canvasses help to create depth and extra dimensions, like passages of time or a representation of many lives, paths, and places”. 

It is the joyful leaping from idea to idea and always so playfully and yet seriously tethered in process that reminds me of Patricia, as well as the colour and the fact that both women knew or know what it means to travel to live in a new place. For example, Natalya says that “Rough, broken edges symbolize roots, bark, or fallen leaves as well as worries and anxieties. Maze-like patterns are the events and memories that structured my life and work as imaginary doors to other realities.”

It is this breadth of ambition and conceptual concerns, along with the pure joy of making that mean Natalya is a very worthy winner and I look forward to seeing her flourish as an artist in the future

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Posted by author: Emma Drye
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