Arts / Big prize open to Australian artists

Collie Art Gallery

CANBERRA artists usually punch well above their weight in regional art competitions but they would do well to cast their eyes across the Nullarbor to the inaugural $50,000 Collie Art Prize.

With entries closing on January 12 for 2-D works in acrylic, watercolour, textiles, pastels, charcoal, ink and mixed media, they’d better be quick. The theme for the first prize will be “Identity”.

“CityNews” was alerted to the biennial prize by gallery co-ordinator Payam Parishanzadeh, who said he believed it was the richest individual acquisitive art prize to be offered in regional Australia, one which should attract entries from across the country.

The daring initiative in the mining town in south western WA, has been supported by the Collie & Districts Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank. The Rotary Club of Collie has chipped in with two additional $5000 prizes and a $1000 People’s Choice Prize will be provided by popular Collie bed and breakfast establishment “Whispering Pines B&B”.

Patrons at Collie Art Gallery

Mr Parishanzadeh said the hope is to put Collie, especially the Collie Art Gallery, on the map and make the local arts scene even more vibrant.

He told “CityNews”: “I hope that the gallery will be a meeting point for the participating artists and visitors from across Australia during the opening… I also hope that the event will be a stepping stone for the gallery, enabling us to collaborate with major Australian art galleries in organising major events.”

Collie, located 230km south of Perth, has been best known for its coal mines and power station but is quickly developing a focus as a centre for the arts.

The opening of the Collie Art Gallery two years ago was the culmination of 40 years of lobbying, planning and fundraising by local art lovers. Collie & Districts Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank contributed half a million dollars to the original building fund, which also received funds from Shire of Collie’s and WA’s Royalty for Regions fund. The gallery’s ongoing operations are entirely supported by the local community.

When the gallery opened its doors for the first time, it was judged to be the first time a purpose built “A-class” art gallery had been opened in WA since the Art Gallery of WA in the 1970s.

Collie Art Gallery chairperson and head of visual arts at Collie Senior High School, Trudi Curran, said: “The competition’s theme of ‘Identity’ will invite artists to submit significant artworks which will explore the age-old issues of identity and belonging that define who we are and how we relate to the world around us.”

“If successful, the biennial event can have a positive impact on the local economy, attracting even more tourists to town,” Mr Parishanzadeh says.

Entries to the Collie Art Prize will initially be by digital submission through the gallery’s website, after which a panel of judges will select finalists who will then be invited to send their work to the gallery in Collie, or to a designated drop off point in Perth. The winning works will be announced at a gallery event on Friday, March 2. Entries to collieartgallery.org.au close on January 12.

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