Entries are now being accepted for the inaugural Benalla Nude $50,000 prize, and the winning entry will be judged by respected art historian and art museum curator, Daniel Thomas, AM.
The prize is on an equal footing with other major art prizes in Australia and the winner will be announced on 10 April 2014. The winning entry and other shortlisted works will be exhibited from 11 April – 27 June at the Benalla Art Gallery.
‘It’s the only time there has been a prize offered in Australia for the category of the nude, so that is significant, says Mr Thomas, whose prestigious arts career includes appointments at the the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the Art Gallery of South Australia. ‘It will be an additional drawcard for drivers down the Hume Freeway who might be tempted to pause and support the economy. The [prize] money available, which is $50,000, will certainly attract some interesting artists.’
Mr Thomas was also a member of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, and a board member of the National Portrait Gallery. He now lives in Tasmania, and recently wrote for the contemporary section of the National Gallery’s exhibition “Australia,” shown at the Royal Academy in London in September.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Mr Thomas’ calibre judging this prize,” said Jilian Mulally, Manager Arts, Communications and Events for Benalla Rural City Council. “His involvement illustrates the quality of the vision to promote understanding of the art of the nude, and the important role of regional galleries in encouraging fresh engagement with art.”
The $50,000 non-acquisitive prize has been donated by the Friends of the Benalla Gallery, an organisation run by local volunteers who reflect the strong local involvement in producing and promoting high quality art.
Enquiries have been received already from all over Australia, and Australian artist Ivan Durrant, who proposed the idea initially, says that nudes always spark attention.
“There seems to be a force that drives us with enthusiasm to wonder and gaze at the marvel and beauty of the naked human – it’s locked in our DNA,” he said.
Postal entries with CDs or DVDs will be accepted between 9am Monday 13 January 2014 and 5pm Friday 21 February 2014. Finalists will then be notified by Benalla Art Gallery when to deliver their works for hanging and judging.
The award will be presented to the work judged as the best work of the naked human figure in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media. The work must be by an artist who is an Australian citizen or who has been an Australian resident in the 12 months preceding the closing date for entries.
Entry forms for Benalla Nude can be obtained from Benalla Art Gallery website www.benallaartgallery.com.or the Benalla Art Gallery, Bridge Street West Benalla. Call (03) 5760 2619.
The Benalla Art Gallery, a striking modernist building overlooking Lake Benalla, has been firmly declaring its status as a significant centre for art in Victoria with recent exhibitions including The Pilbara Series by Fred Williams, and All the Animals Run Free by Trevor “Turbo” Brown.
Its permanent collection includes works by Arthur Streeton, Fred Williams, Eugene von Guerard, Sidney Nolan, Frederick McCubbin, John Peter Russell, Margaret Pre¬ston, Grace Cossington Smith, Charles Blackman, Albert Tucker, John Brack, Brett Whiteley, Juan Davila, and Howard Arkley.