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Stretch your audience westward

Brooke Boland

The City of Rockingham Art Awards offer Australian artists the opportunity to develop audiences in Western Australia.
Stretch your audience westward

Lake Richmond, Joanne Duffy. Winner, 2015 City of Rockingham Open Award. 

Artists may sometimes overlook or undervalue local city council awards, but they do so to their own detriment, especially emerging artists.

These awards, such as The City of Rockingham Art Awards in Western Australia that is currently open for entries, offer an opportunity to develop audiences in new areas and can often kick start careers.

Artist Helen Coleman, who was awarded the City of Rockingham Emerging Award in 2015, said the opportunity to show her work locally generated interest in the encaustic art form she works in.


‘As well as creating encaustic  [hot wax] artworks, I also run encaustic collage workshops, to encourage people to explore the many ways that beeswax can be used in art.  Encaustic is relatively unknown in Western Australia as an art medium, and the opportunity to show my work locally helps raise awareness, and spark interest in viewers to learn something new,’ she said.

Entries close 24 February 2017

Worlds End I & II, Helen Coleman. Winner, Emerging Award, 2015 City of Rockingham Art Awards.

Receiving the award also opened doors for her professionally with her work being purchased opening night by the Murdoch Hospital Collection. ‘As an award-winning artist I was later invited to enter other prestigious exhibitions.  These again led to other opportunities, so the Rockingham Awards was a great launching pad for my career.  The exposure for my art was excellent, and I met many people later who said they had seen my work in the Rockingham exhibition.’ 

The positive domino effect this particular award had for Coleman’s career points to the importance of Emerging Artist categories in local awards such as this. ‘With only a year of experience it was great that I was not judged against artists who have been doing this stuff professionally for many years,’ said Coleman.

But it is not just the emerging artists who find the experience beneficial. At the Rockingham Art Awards there are several categories open to Australian artists.

Unlike some local council awards, The City of Rockingham Art Awards are open to visual and multi-media artists across Australia (excluding the local resident award). Artists are able to enter up to three submissions for selection that have been completed within the last eighteen months and entry to the competition is free.


  • $5000 Open Award (acquisitive, all works automatically entered)
  • $4000 Heritage Award
  • $4000 Indigenous Award
  • $2500 Emerging Award
  • $1500 Local Resident Award
  • $1500 Robert Carter Youth Award
  • $  250 People’s Choice Award

City of Rockingham Art Awards are now open

The Heritage and Indigenous Awards are acquired on a rotating basis as part of the ongoing Dorothy Liley Art Acquisition. In 2017, the winner of the Indigenous category will be acquired.

City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels also said the awards are backed up by a multi-media promotional campaign, and feature a quality catalogue and sales opportunities for artists.

‘While still in their second year, the awards are positioned to become the primary art exhibition within the region, and will continue to grow in both scope and audience, providing artists with a unique opportunity to be at the centre of a vibrant, and expanding, artistic hub. Association with the awards gives artists an opportunity to add weight to their artistic CV, to expose their work to a wider audience and create potential sales avenues,’ said Sammels.

Advice for artists

Joanne Duffy was awarded the Open Award in 2015 for her work Lake Richmond (pictured above), which depicts natural swamp land in the local area.

‘Lake Richmond is in a part of Rockingham where a marina is going to be built – which there is a lot of opposition to. The reason I choose a local untouched area was just to highlight what is in our backyards. People often overlook what’s there,’ said Duffy.

‘For local artists who are entering I would recommend they have a look around where they live and perhaps pick something that means something to them locally.’

Duffy also said those shortlisted should get used to promoting their work. ‘Promote that you’re in it. Promote that you have been shortlisted. This will obviously promote your work, but it also helps the show as well.’

‘Artists can help out by promoting their work and the show through their own networks and you’ll get more people going and more community interaction.’

For more information about the City of Rockingham Art Awards, visit

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.