Art prize gets creative in strange times 

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Picture House Gallery & Bookshop in Gunning.

“STRANGE times require creative solutions,” says Gunning artist Margarita Georgiadis as she prepares for the Picture House Art Prize, part of the inaugural Gunning Arts Festival.

Georgiadis is co-owner, with her husband of 17 years, actor-artist Max Cullen, of the Picture House Gallery & Bookshop in Gunning, the former Coronation theatre, on which planned festivities will centre. 

Undaunted by the coronavirus scare, she says, “our art prize is most definitely still going ahead and we are still accepting submissions.

“The general consensus among event organisers is that we will host our arts festival online.

“We want to create something for people who are in self-isolation,” she tells us, explaining that while some smaller events could though they don’t know yet go ahead live, most performances are suitable for live-streaming. 

“The worst-case scenario is that we will have an online art exhibition, which can still be viewed and voted on by the public,” she says.

The Picture House Gallery prize and exhibition, curated by Cullen and Georgiadis and sponsored by Derivan Art Supplies, will give preference to entries that best interpret the festival theme, “Celebrating Nature” and the winner will be announced on May 16.

The prize, a Derivan Matisse prize pack of paints valued at $500 and an offer for the winner to stage a solo exhibition at The Picture House Gallery, will be non-acquisitive (meaning the artist can keep it) but all artworks are expected to be for sale.

It’s open to artists aged over 18 for works in photography, painting, drawing, printing and multimedia, with a People’s Choice Award for the most popular work.

Max Cullen and Margarita Georgiadis, co-owners of of the Picture House Gallery & Bookshop in Gunning.

“I know there are many talented artists that live and work in the region… and strongly encourage all artists to apply,” Georgiadis says.

Everyone knows Cullen from his popular appearances on TV, his portrayals of Henry Lawson on stage, or as Travis Hudson in “X-Men” and Owl Eyes in the Baz Luhrmann film “Gatsby”, but Georgiadis, a respected painter who once told “CityNews” that life with Max was “a zany, Dadaistic experience every day”, is also a creative producer with an eye to the future.

The festival has been spearheaded by the Upper Lachlan Shire Council and several Gunning arts practitioners and community cultural groups, including Gunning Focus Group, Dianna Nixon’s Wild Voices Music Theatre, The Picture House Gallery & Bookshop, Creative Gunning, local author Greg Baines and Gunning & District Historical Society.

The gala opening concert on April 17, followed by a day of music, drama, art, book reading, and wearable art fashion on April 18, may have to go online but organisers are sure it will still be fun.

Gunning Arts Festival, April 17-18. The Picture House Art Prize & Exhibition, weekends from April 18 to May 10. Entries close 5pm on Tuesday, March 31 to gunningartsfestival.com

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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