Major acquisitive prize sets new standard for regional galleries

The MAMA Art Foundation National Photography Prize has increased to $50,000 and provides opportunity for collectors to purchase original works this May.
Major acquisitive prize sets new standard for regional galleries

Rose Farrell and George Parkin Linesman on the Volga, 1986 c-type photograph. Purchased from the National Photographic Exhibition 1987.

The MAMA Art Foundation National Photography Prize was first held in 1983 with a prize pool of $20,000. In support of the gallery redevelopment, the MAMA Art Foundation has more than  doubled the acquisitive fund to $50,000 for 2016.

The prize celebrates contemporary photography in Australia and is a vital means for MAMA to acquire new works for their extensive collection.


‘While we were closed, we took the opportunity to do a complete audit of our collection, particularly our photography collection of which we have over 600 works. We were able to identify and make note and list the artists we already have represented in the collection, but also a lot of study and research on who is working in the sector and who is doing really exciting stuff in the Australian photography scene.’

This year MAMA has also promoted the prize as a way for photographers to get their work in front of collectors.

Hemsley told ArtsHub since opening in October last year, the gallery has targeted regional art collectors and has encouraged them to attend the exhibition. ‘I’m really hoping that this is not only an opportunity for MAMA to increase the collection, but also for buyers and collectors, and for artists to have their works sold,’ she said.

‘Acquisitive art prizes are essential as they enable artists to get paid for artworks that go into public collections, which is really important because, although your work may not get shown often, it’s researched, collected, and conserved.

‘Your work becomes part of a wider community and collection for future access. It outlives the life of the artist in a way,’ concluded Hemsley.

The exhibition featuring the works of the shortlisted finalists opens Saturday 21 May, with artists to be announced mid-April.

Brooke Boland

Thursday 31 March, 2016

About the author

Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW.