Bluethumb Art Prize 2020: Launching Our Biggest and Best Yet
After a year hiatus, next month (entries open 1st October – make a note in your diaries!) we’re bringing back our innovative art prize when Australian artists need it most. While many art prizes have been postponed or cancelled due to COVID lockdowns and restrictions, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make our Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 the biggest and best yet.
By partnering with 1 Denison, the new home of Nine and North Sydney’s new tallest building, Grand Designs Australia Magazine and Eckersley’s Art & Craft, not only can we offer more opportunities for artists to step into the spotlight with more category awards, we can also offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the winning artists. The prizes include a winners exhibition at 1 Denison early next year, a 4 page editorial in 2021’s first edition of Grand Designs Australia Magazine and $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft gift vouchers to spend on art supplies.
But that’s not all. Keep reading to find out all the exciting details. Spoiler: national treasure Ken Done is one of our judges!
The Problem with Art Prizes in 2020
We love art prizes and know how important they are for artists’ careers, but we also know they can be done differently, especially in these challenging times.
- COVID Cancellations
The 2020 calendar is emptier than any other year.
Art prizes are often difficult and expensive to enter, not to mention elitist and lacking diversity.
The judging is often seen to be fixed or by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.
Bring back our art prize tackling the above issues and building on two hugely successful prizes in 2017 and 2018.
- Tackling COVID
Using the groundbreaking art prize platform we’ve already built, the prize will be hosted completely online this year, when it’s needed most. We’re then hosting a winners exhibition at 1 Denison next year, when hopefully restrictions will have eased.
Our prize is ridiculously easy and free to enter, and importantly open to all Australian-based artists (you don’t have to be a permanent resident or citizen to enter, as 2018’s winner Kim Hyunji knows well after being locked out from most other major Australian prizes).
- Judged by Artists
Who better to judge? Not only do we have some of Australia’s best and most respected artists on our judging panel, we’re also introducing the Artists’ Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft, judged by the 11,000+ artists using Bluethumb.
New for 2020
Using the experience and learnings from our previous two prizes, plus our deep understanding of the current digital climate and leveraging our huge growth, we’re making this year our biggest and best yet.
In 2018 we brought in more categories to help more artists. This year we’re doing the same and changing the category prizes to our most popular collections. Plus we’re introducing the new Artists’ Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft, voted for by the nation’s artists.
Due to the ongoing uncertainty of holding events, we’re hosting the awards ceremony virtually on Instagram Live on November 26, building on our highly successful lockdown events. We’re then having a winners exhibition in early 2021 at 1 Denison.
Our judging panel includes some of Australia’s most-renowned artists from diverse backgrounds and practices to ensure our panel is inclusive and qualified. This will ensure awesome and inclusive results.
This Year’s Prizes
Thanks to our sponsors 1 Denison, Grand Designs Australia Magazine and Eckersley’s Art & Craft, we’re able to offer more prizes than ever this year and a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our artists.
The 2 category award winners with the highest scores will win the top cash prizes.
- $10,000 Bluethumb Art Prize sponsored by 1 Denison
- $2,000 Bluethumb Art Prize Runner-Up Award sponsored by Grand Designs Australia Magazine
Each category award winner will be invited to exhibit at the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition at 1 Denison next year. They’ll also receive a $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft gift voucher to stock up on art supplies, plus a Bluethumb marketing package worth $1,000 to further boost their online presence and sales. As if that wasn’t already enough, the winners will be featured in a 4 page editorial about them and the prize in Grand Designs Australia Magazine in January 2021. With all these once-in-a-lifetime prizes along with the notoriety of winning, our category award winners are sure to have an incredible 2021!
- Abstract Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
- Landscape Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
- Portrait Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
- Still Life Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
- Photography Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
People’s & Artists’ Choice
These awards are voted for by the public and Bluethumb artists respectively. The voting will stay open past the awards night on 26th November to get as many votes as possible and the winners announced just before Christmas. The winners will get the best Christmas present ever: a $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft gift voucher and a Bluethumb marketing package worth $1,000. They’ll also be invited to exhibit at the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition at 1 Denison next year.
- People’s Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
- Artists’ Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
Our 2020 Judging Panel
Remember how we said our prize would be judged by Australia’s most-renowned artists? We weren’t lying! This panel will not only pick great winners, but will get our prize and our artists national attention.
- Ken Done: an artist who needs no introduction; a national treasure who is as iconic as his art.
- Blak Douglas: the first Indigenous artist to win the Kilgour Prize in 2019.
- Kim Leutwyler: an Archibald Prize favourite and one of the top 50 most influential LGBTIQ+ allied Australians (Cosmopolitan).
- Gavin Wanganeen: Australian Football League (AFL) legend, acclaimed contemporary Indigenous artist and Aboriginal activist.
- Bindi Cole Chocka: award-winning photographer, including the Victorian Indigenous Art Award, and one of Melbourne’s top 100 most influential people (The Age).
- Kim Hyunji: the Bluethumb Art Prize 18 winner and international rising star.
- April Ossington: the editor of Grand Designs Australia Magazine and art aficionado.
The finalists will be shortlisted by the Bluethumb selection panel before being handed over to our judges. The panel includes our art advisor Amélia Davis, interior designer Alexandra Stavrou, content extraordinaire Megan George and our Bluethumb Art Prize Director Freddy Grant (that’s me – haha).
The Art Prize for Our Crazy Times
“I would always encourage people to paint and draw to express what they feel,” says judge Ken Done. “Especially in these difficult times, painting and drawing seem to be an even more important way of using lockdown time to process what’s happening in the world. The Bluethumb Art Prize is a great encouragement, and such a wonderful reminder that good things can still come out of this year.”
We couldn’t agree more Ken. Let’s get this Done! Entries open 1st October and close 31st October so artists, it’s time to get in the studio.
Catch up with our previous finalists and semi-finalists in our latest curation – Where Are They Now?