Hornsby Art Prize embraces digital art and doubles prize money

Hornsby Art Prize has never looked better than on its 10 th anniversary this year, with a broader national reach, more money and a popular digital category
Hornsby Art Prize embraces digital art and doubles prize money

2018 HAP winner, The Forgotten Pond II (detail) by Clifford How; Image courtesy the artist and Hornsby Shire Council

This year is the 10th Anniversary of the Hornsby Art Prize (HAP). While in the past, it has followed the traditional path offering the entry genres of painting, printmaking, sculpture and drawing, the recent decision to expand the prize to include submissions of Digital Art - Stills was one that acknowledges our changing times.


‘We found that people were submitting digitally generated artworks into the printmaking section. It didn’t do any favours for either genre’, said Joanna Joyce, Arts and Cultural Development Officer for Hornsby Shire Council.

She is of the view that it is important to revisit an art prize to keep it relevant.

‘Every year you realise that you can do things a bit better. Art is often a precursor to change, and if an art prize remains static it probably doesn’t accurately reflect the community it serves.’

She continued: ‘These traditional art prizes can open up, and serve not only the baby boomers and Gen X-ers, but also younger generations who have only known a world with technology.’

Australia has a big gaming market and a lot of artists working in that digital sphere don’t have the opportunity to present their work in a competitive environment. We wanted to change that. It is just the tip of iceberg to how prizes will change,’ Joyce said.

How to enter the Hornsby Art Prize

While painting remains the largest category of entries, both sculpture and digital generated artworks are the fastest growing areas of interest. However, digital art entries still have to be printed in a manner that they can be hung.

Joyce said, that till now, the condition of entry was about the presentation limitations of an art prize, and not the capacity of the medium itself.

Another big change for the HAP is that it has moved from being acquisitive, to non-acquisitive – allowing the winning artist the opportunity to sell their art work. The major prize has also grown from $5,000 to $10,000.  

‘The HAP started out not just to showcase local artists, but has always been about showing their work within a broader net of artists nationally. It was about helping artists to raise the bar, to see what other artists are doing, and show how they might strive to be better in their own practice,’ explained Joyce.

The HAP draws an average of 500 national entries annually, with around 100 finalists selected for exhibition and prize consideration.

‘Our prize doesn’t impose a theme on artists; we just want to great work,’ said Joyce.

Hedging the odds, and choosing the right art prize, can often be a case of starting small for bigger career impact. Joyce is of the strong belief that being a finalist in an art prize does help professionally.

‘With art prizes, all the barriers of access are removed; they allow your artworks to speak.’ She continued: ‘It is difficult to get feedback as an artist when you work by yourself, so entering an art prize provides an opportunity to get some critical feedback – is my work good enough to make the cut? And for artist who don’t have gallery representation, it is an easy way to build some recognition and visibility around your practice.'

‘I look at a lot of artists’ CVs, and increasingly artists are driving prize recognition by including them. They are giving art prizes a level of professional esteem,’ Joyce added.

A condition of the HAP is that the artwork has not been a finalist in another prize to ensure the exhibition feels fresh, and artists are pushing forward in their practice.

‘You see a lot of artworks of exceptional quality that pop up again and again in multiple prizes. We didn’t want an exhibition that you could see elsewhere.’

What you need to know

The entry categories for the HAP are: Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, 3D works and Digital Art - Stills.  To learn more on the terms and conditions visit the Hornsby Art Prize.

The major prize is a non-acquisitive $10,000 prize. Eligible entrants will also be considered for the Hornsby Shire Emerging Artist and Wallarobba Outstanding Local Artist Awards.

The HAP is delivered across two sites, Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre and the digital art stills section at Hornsby Central Library.

Entries are open now, and close midnight, Saturday 3 August 2019.

The Hornsby Art Prize is sponsored by Hornsby Shire Council and delivered in partnership with the Hornsby Art Society (NSW).

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Gina Fairley

Saturday 18 May, 2019

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.

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