Be part of one of Australia’s richest drawing prizes

The Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Prize celebrates contemporary drawing across its broad definitions, with $45,000 in total prize money.
Be part of one of Australia’s richest drawing prizes Adam Cusack, In plain sight 2016. Winner 2016 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award. Image courtesy the artist.
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Gina Fairley

Wednesday 22 January, 2020

Drawing sits at the foundation of most visual arts practice. It is not surprising then, that an art prize celebrating drawing is popular among artists.

Niomi Sands, Director of Grafton Regional Gallery and organiser of the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA), told ArtsHub: ‘Sometimes we don’t think of drawing as a practice in itself, rather as a way to work out ideas as an artist, but it is an amazing part of arts practice – it’s fundamental.’

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JADA is Australia’s richest regional drawing prize, with total prize money of $45,000 on offer. This year the major prize has been increased to $35,000, and further acquisitions to around $10,000 help bolster support for the artists and grow the gallery’s collection.

‘Having seen the JADA grow over the years, I know what an extraordinary medium drawing is, and how dynamic it is now, as artists are always pushing the limits of traditional definitions. They revisit materials that have been around for centuries and look at them a different way. It really is exciting and many of our visitors are blown away,’ Sands continued.

From photo realism, digital drawings to very abstract drawing, JADA is a wonderful way to see how artists are using  drawing to speak about contemporary making.

Sand told ArtsHub: ‘One of the exciting elements of JADA is that, as an acquisitive prize, over the years it has documented the development of contemporary drawing practice in Australia, and has captured how drawing has changed. That is incredibly valuable for an artist to be part of that conversation, that collection.’

Todd Fuller, Ode to Clarence, 2017/18, mixed media animation on paper. Winner 2018 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award. Image courtesy the artist and May Space.

This biennial acquisitive art prize celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.

Sands said that one of the great advantages of entering JADA is that it puts an artist’s individual work in context.

‘You can get a sense of where your practice sits, and to be part of a narrative of the development of Australian art. We are passionate about supporting artists through that journey,’ she said.

Each year the JADA finalist exhibition goes on tour to regional galleries nationally. Sands said that JADA offers an artist great visibility beyond the single moment of the Award through the tour. She explained: ‘People have an affinity with drawing – they can relate to it – so the exhibition is always very popular with audiences over the various venues.’

The prize this year comes at an exciting moment in the gallery’s history as it undergoes a $7.6 million development including a new climate controlled gallery space. 

Learn more about entering the 2020 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award.

About the author

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW.

Twitter: @ginafairley
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