Arts / Coup for regional art attracts 500 entries

‘Synchronymity’, by Alistair Taylor. 

IN a coup for regional art, the inaugural $50,000 Collie Art Prize was launched in fine style over the weekend, attracting 500 entries from around Australia.

Tipped off that Queanbeyan artist and gallery owner Claire Primrose, was among the 42 finalists, “CityNews” popped down from Perth to the south-western coal mining town Collie for the opening, and found a thriving arts community and a local populace bursting with civic pride at having such a facility – and such a prize.

When Collie Art Gallery was opened just two years ago, it was considered the first purpose built A-class community gallery to be opened in Western Australia since the Art Gallery of WA in 1979.

Claire Primrose’s entry, “Before and after”.

By no coincidence, it seemed, Collie scored another coup in having the judging panel headed up by Stefano Carboni, director of the Art Gallery of WA, who acted as spokesperson for the judges on the night and assured those present that with its superior facilities in lighting and “climate control”, the gallery could well be a suitable destination for future touring shows.

Brian Robinson’s winning print, ‘By Virtue of This Act I Hereby Take Possession of This Land’.

The inaugural Collie Art Prize for two-dimensional artworks was launched last year, with a $50,000 prize offered by the Collie and Districts Branch of the Bendigo Bank and two $5000 commended prizes were provided by the members of the Rotary Club of Collie. Members of the Collie Gallery Group believe the prize shares the title of richest individual acquisitive art prize offered in regional Australia with one other gallery only.

As is conventional, Dr Carboni praised the overall standard as very high, and in this case he was right. Among the shortlisted entries were Primrose’s refined graphite and ink work “Before and after”, a searing collage of impressions from in and outside jail by Andy Quilty, and many, many portraits, including an idiosyncratic suite of knitted portrayals, “Feminist Fan: Selection” and James Preisz’s striking portrait of painter Abdul Abdullah.

But Dr Carboni was really there to announce that he and his fellow judges, Caroline Lunel from Bunbury Regional Art Galleries and “Artist’s Chronicle” publisher Lyn DiCiero, had chosen as the winner in the acquisitive art prize Cairns artist Brian Robinson for his black and white linocut print, “By Virtue of This Act I Hereby Take Possession of This Land”.

Executed in the manner of Torres Straits Islander linocuts, the winning work is an artistic impression of Captain James Cook at his maps, surrounded by Indigenous patterns of lush foliage, with Space Invaders icons in the upper part of the work.

Robinson’s winning work was, Ms DiCiero said: “A modern, tongue-in-cheek, yet powerful and thought provoking interpretation of European possession of Australia.”

Sarah Smith’s work, ‘Cotton Candy’.

The two $5000 Rotary Club of Collie prizes were awarded to Darlington WA artist Alistair Taylor for “Synchronymity”; (based on 96 other Alistair Taylors he found on Facebook, the work is about lost identity) and to local Collie artist Sarah Smith for her work, “Cotton Candy”, which depicts a young woman whose elements of identity are reflected in the glasses she wears.

It is believed that, sponsorship permitting, the Collie Art Prize will now become a biennial event.










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