A designer and a portrait painter are the winners of the 2015 Arts awards presented annually by the Mundaring Bicentennial Scholarship Trust to assist young local artists to develop their talents.

Mundaring furniture designer Jack Flanagan, whose work is regularly exhibited in Melbourne, London and Perth, won the prestigious $9,000 Robert Juniper Award for the Arts, and visual artist Cherie Tucker received the Bob and Trish Juniper Art Prize of $1,000. The awards were presented at a ceremony in Mundaring on January 31.

Growing up in the Perth Hills, Jack Flanagan initially studied engineering (he was motor racing at the time), but his fascination for the way things worked prompted him to switch to industrial design and he graduated in 2012 from Perth’s Central Institute of Technology. ‘I started off designing hospital equipment and then moved on to designing furniture for a company in Fremantle,’ Jack said.

In his Mundaring studio, he enjoys using traditional techniques like wood turning and sand casting, and admires the skills of the artisans of old: ‘I’ve always liked the idea of a piece of furniture being valued by a family and passed down the generations because it’s strong enough to last for years.’

Jack is equally at home exploiting the benefits of state-of-the-art materials and technology and is currently working on a range of tables and chairs, which he hopes to exhibit in Copenhagen next year. His award is timely as it will help meet the costs involved in the design, prototyping, materials, marketing and freight of his new range to Europe.

UK-born artist Cherie Tucker, who also grew up in the Shire, has been drawn to art for as long as she can remember. She loved copying the faces in her mother’s magazines, but it wasn’t until Year 7 that she realised she had talent and began taking it seriously. ‘I always loved portraits,’ she said, ‘and I used to do pictures of my friends for their birthdays.’

Graduating from Curtin University with a teaching degree majoring in art, she now teaches art at Swan Christian College.

A fascination with Africa, combined with her love for children have taken Cherie to orphanages in Cambodia and Tanzania, where she met her Kenyan partner. Back home, she donates to children’s charities part of the proceeds from her portraits of the orphans she worked with. She paints from photos rather than life – ‘because I enjoy the challenge of capturing a moment in time’.