Art Awards on the brink of greatness

Troy Nankervis

The 2014 Victoria Park Art Awards will increase the profile and prestige of the thriving visual arts community in the Town of Victoria Park.
Art Awards on the brink of greatness

Edward Millen Home will host the 2014 Victoria Park Art Awards. Image: courtesy Victoria Park Art Awards

The Victoria Park Art Awards have celebrated the works of artists across the Town of Victoria Park municipality for nearly 20 years, yet this year sees the beloved awards step up both in scope and prestige.

Organisers are now extending an invitation to all respective Western Australian artists, who have until Friday 15 August 5pm to submit an Expression of Interest. 

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A complete restructure of this year's awards includes a generous $10,000 judges prize supported by Premier Partner John Hughes. A further $2,500 in prizes supports this prestigious prize and indeed raises the bar.

Curating the awards exhibition which features both the winning piece alongside selected finalists is curator Andrew Varano, who hopes the non-acquisitive nature of the Awards will encourage artists with more performative, experimental or ephemeral practices to enter.

‘The message we want to spread is that more conceptual, experimental and transient works are definitely welcome. Art prizes often have a tendency to include more easily purchasable works, but I would rather see more interesting works included. 

‘Although I do like nice images and objects, I would also like see film or more performative works also represented,’ he said.

Director of Victoria Park Centre for the Arts Rhyll Wilson echoes Varano’s enthusiasm, adding the restructure will help position the Town of Victoria Park as one of the country’s leading visual arts communities.

‘It’s very exciting that we’re able to expand the awards in so many different ways this year, making it just bigger, better and building our local artistic community. We’re on the brink of being one of the most exciting of artistic persuasion, I suppose in Perth,’ she said. 

‘We’re trying to make the awards into an event that really does showcase just how great local artists in Victoria Park and Western Australia are. We’re slowly encroaching ourselves onto a larger forum, to showcase the amazing amount of art that we have around here.’

Edward Millen Home remains the centrepiece venue for the awards, with free entry to the public during the Awards exhibition from 21 September to 4 October. ‘It’s a beautiful venue for the art awards,' said Wilson.

'That just makes much more sense and has made the awards become much more of a premiere event for the Victoria Park arts community. It’s got such a lovely feel that the artwork just looks amazing in there.'

As with many other major art prizes, the awards have been seen to challenge and provoke viewers. Last year’s winner Baby Maker by Adam Ismail caused stirs through the local community.

‘They weren’t sure about allowing it into the actual exhibition, being a little bit controversial in its subject matter, but it ended up winning. That’s a great thing for an artist – having a controversial showcase piece of the exhibition.’

Running alongside the awards are a number of events that will develop the creative talents of local community members. ‘Last year we decided that there was not quite enough of a development space for the artists,’ said Wilson.

'Golden Things is our youth development area delivered by Children School of Contemporary Art, with a special art program to help school-age students be aware of the art awards and to help them with their artistic endeavours.’

‘Curtin University have a premiere art school in Victoria Park and there wasn’t a lot of involvement with the students there, so we thought the best thing to do was to nurture our emerging artists.' 

During Art in the Park. Curtin students will also have the opportunity to connect with interior architecture professionals and master technical and creative skills in the Edward Millen reserve.

‘Art in the Park is a sculpture educational program that we’ve set up. It’s site responsive to help activate space, and just expand and give the students the chance of doing a commissioned piece for Edward Millen Reserve,’ Wilson said.

‘They’re getting industry experience before heading out into the big wide world, but also to bring Curtin [University] students in to see how great the awards are, and hopefully get them to be part of the community. We hope they enter into the next year, and continue our flow of artists. If we don’t help the younger ones, we’re going to run out of artists.’

Applicants to the Victoria Park Art Awards are required to submit a CV, artist statement and a digital image of their submission. ‘We’re adding a few more steps to bring it up to industry standard across the board,’ said Wilson.

‘Art is for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re an emerging artist, a professional or a casual weekend artist. Art is for everyone and I think it’s a good idea to get your art out there – give it a shot.’

Expressions of interest to the 2014 Victoria Park Art Awards are invited from all Western Australian based artists and close Friday 15 August at 5pm.

Visit the Town of Victoria Park website for full details, terms and application details. 

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis