Entries in the Bundaberg Art Prize 2019 have been described as exceptional, making it a difficult task to select one winner from the fantastic selection of works.
Bundaberg Art Prize event organiser Phil Oakley said he was speechless at the results, which exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“I think overwhelmed is the word to use, I think it’s far bigger and better than ever before,” Phil said.
“At the start it was a dribble, dribble, dribble of entries and in the last week we were getting 50 entries a day.”
In total there were 461 artworks entered by about 250 artists with most from the Bundaberg Region and many newcomers.
“We have people we have never seen before enter, and we were surprised and said where did you come from?” Phil said.
“I think these are closet artists who may be a bit scared to get out and they’ve seen this as a big opportunity to show their work, and it’s great it’s in town.”
Phil said having the Bundaberg Art Prize in the CBD had really helped with entry numbers and now people were browsing other stores and popping in for a look.
“People who have just gone into Rockmans and seen us and thought what’s going on there, I’ll go and check it out – and these are people who would never have been to an art gallery before,” he said.
“They walk in here and they see the talent we have in the Bundaberg Region.”
Phil said several hundred people attended on the first day and he expected it to remain a steady flow for the rest of the week.
Bundaberg Art Prize 2019 winners
First prize: Gabrielle McDonald: Outback Avatar
Winner: Robin Hines – Inundation
Highly commended: Paul Perry – Looking but can’t see, seeing but can’t look; and Belynda Waugh – Nanayn
Winner: Kathy Valks – Nesting Time
Highly commended: Jennifer Kenny
Works on paper
Winner: Aleta Bates – The leather workers companion
Highly commended: Martin King – False Ornithology Diaries No.1; and Cavin Staff – Peaceful Meadow
Winner: Tracy Olive – Within My Sea
Highly commended: Mel Christi – In Nature
Winner: Angelia Pears – Botanica
Highly commended: Taylor Warbuton – Disorient; Jesse Sutton – Tree Snake; and Emma Searle – Flower Power
Judging was difficult
Lorraine spent the better part of Friday pacing the pavement on Bourbong Street as she went from exhibit to exhibit thoroughly checking each individual piece of art.
Lorraine said she found judging the 461 pieces very difficult and the artwork was of national standard.
“There was a diversity of works and it was of such a high calibre,” Lorraine said.
“I arrived Thursday night and spent a lot of time walking from one end of Bundaberg to the other.
“I wanted to get an overview of everybody’s work before I even started looking at the different categories.”
Art remains strong in regional areas
As a teacher of art in Sydney, Lorraine said it was nice to see art was still going strong in regional areas, and Bundaberg had some of very talented artists.
“The other thing I found quite enjoyable was the amount of emerging artists who entered, the people under 25; there were so many young people across all of the categories,” she said.
“It’s nice to see out in the regions there is still such a great interest in art, and if any of those young people came to me and asked if I should apply for the national art school, I would definitely say yes and tell them to apply.”
Lorraine said the Bundaberg Art Prize helped artists to become known in the community.
She said she divorced herself from artwork she aesthetically liked herself and took a more objective look.
“I looked at all 460 pieces and I was drawn to pieces of particular colours, or a particular style and I had to think I am picking that because I particularly like it and it’s hard, really hard to make sure it doesn’t cloud the judgement,” she said.
“I picked works that had more of a universal message to everyone and not one person alone.
“What a boring world it would be if we all liked the same thing!”
Lorraine said no names were attached to entries during the judging process which meant she had no idea which artist created what.
“It was a blind judging, so I had no idea if it was male or female, only the emerging artists I knew they were under 25,” she said.
“I love that this also gives artists a chance to try something new; the fact it gives them a platform to garner and gauge public opinion, is just terrific.
“They can also stack themselves up against other artists and that’s a good thing.”
All the artwork is listed for sale, and pieces were walking out the door fast with eight sold before the winners had even been announced.