Upwey Archies names neighbors as winners

Paul and Anna Miller are neighbors with Poppy and Eloise Hayler Picture: PARKER MCKENZIE.

By Parker McKenzie

When the two winners of the Upwey Archies community art exhibition were announced, they were surprised to find out they knew each well.

Paul Miller won the open category and Poppy Hayler won the top prize in the 14 and under category.

“I was very proud of myself because I worked really hard through lockdown,” Poppy said.

“I felt it was kind of funny that Paul, the other person who won it, was our neighbour.”

The Upwey Archies is an art exhibition organised by Upwey Community Group in partnership with Burrinja Cultural Centre, and it partners with local businesses to display entries in their windows and shopfronts.

“Because I’m an only child I’ve been by myself a lot during lockdown, and that’s why I learned how to paint quite a lot, it’s an easy option to do,” Poppy said.

“Mum is also an artist so that helps too.”

Poppy’s mother Eloise said that the budding artist had some other inspiration along the way.

“She’s got an amazing art teacher named Sophia Walsh,” Eloise said.

“She’s been a big influence on her.”

When Paul Miller drew a portrait of his nine-year-daughter Anna while in lockdown, he didn’t expect to win the community art event.

“We spent a lot of time together in lockdown and it was bit of a struggle for kids her age where they should be quite social and I was quite busy working from home,” he said.

“I took a day off to paint a portrait of Anna wearing a mask to capture the essence of what she was going through and spend some more time with her.”

A selection of the 100 community drawn art is displayed on the Upwey Main Street throughout October and November.

Paul had never heard of the competition before this year, but he appreciated the opportunity to spend quality time with his daughter and share the results with the community.

“I really like the community we’ve got here, I’ve been living here for nearly 14 years,” he said.

“It was a good event and something I could do and share with Anna.”

He never expected to win when he entered the competition as a fun activity with his daughter.

“I know Anna loves drawing and painting, so we did some painting together,” Paul said.

“It was a bit of shock, I didn’t even know what to expect with how it was all set up or how many people were entering.”

For Poppy the thrill of seeing her art on display was an exciting experience.

“I like it when people drive past and people are pointing at it, looking at it and saying that’s amazing,” Poppy said.

“Like oh, that’s mine.”

Eloise said the event was a chance for Poppy to connect with her local community, even when lockdowns stopped her socialising.

“We couldn’t do anything like go to classes, it was a way for the community to be connected,” Eloise said.

“We knew all these people that were doing the portraits as well and then posting on Facebook, so it felt like she was involved in a group art project.”

The sense of community the event produced made an impression on Paul.

“It’s a good community we’ve got here, I don’t know how many other suburban towns and villages do this sort of this,” Paul said.

“Walking the streets and seeing all the paintings in the windows is pretty cool, so thanks to Upwey Community Group, it’s really good.”