Bluethumb Art Prize 2021: Doubling Down With $50,000 of Cash Prizes

Spread the word: on Friday 8th October entries open for the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 and as always, it’s bigger and better than ever! With more awards, more cash prizes, more opportunities for artists to cement their place in Australia’s art consciousness, and double (yes double!) the overall winner’s prize money – $20,000 to be precise – this is the art prize to take artists’ careers to the next level.

We’re proud to partner with 1 Denison, Fantastic Framing and Eckersley’s Art & Craft to make this year’s prize the best yet!

Building on 2020’s Success

Last year, after a year hiatus, we brought back our innovative art prize when Australian artists needed it most. While many art prizes were postponed or cancelled due to lockdowns and restrictions, we worked hard in near impossible conditions to make the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 the best yet. A new report by Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work has found Australia’s arts sector is being decimated by the latest COVID shutdown, so 2021 is even more in need of good news and opportunities for Aussie artists.

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020

The 2020 winners were featured in a 4 page editorial in Grand Designs Magazine, plus our overall winner Hubert Pareroultja made national headlines across News Corp mastheads.

Highlights included an all-star artist judging panel led by the legendary Ken Done, national press coverage for the winners and a prestigious exhibition at 1 Denison, North Sydney’s tallest building.

The Bluethumb Art Prize Winners Exhibition kicked off with a bang at the opening in June, before Sydney was locked down.

Despite the lockdowns and lack of people being able to visit the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners Exhibition for the majority of its run, we sold 16 of the 29 artworks while they were on display, giving our award-winning artists $53,910 worth of sales! Plus more have sold since.

Still Life Award winner Jane Reynolds created this series especially for the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners Exhibition.

We also raised $10,000 for UNICEF Australia through an online auction of the 1998 masterwork on display and generously donated by art prize judge Ken Done. Like all of the exciting events we had planned throughout the exhibition, the closing event with the live charity auction was cancelled for obvious reasons, but we pivoted and made the best of it.

Ken Done generously donated this artwork especially for the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners Exhibition to raise money for UNICEF Australia.

In short, we managed to pull off our most successful art prize and exhibition ever during the most difficult of times… and we’re excited to do it all again!

Bluethumb Art Prize 2021

New for the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021

Using the experience and learnings from our previous prizes, plus our deep understanding of the current digital climate and leveraging our huge growth, we’re making this year even bigger.

Last year we added more awards to help more artists and changed the category prizes to our most popular collections. This year we’re extending our categories to include sculpture and digital art. The standard of entries was so high last year that we’ve decided to introduce a runner-up award in each category to give more artists the chance to step into the spotlight, thanks to our sponsor Eckersley’s Art & Craft.

Bluethumb Art Prize 2021

With more categories and awards, for the first time we’re letting artists enter up to 3 original artworks!

Plus we’re adding a new award, the Founders’ Award, judged by Bluethumb co-founders and brothers Edward and George Hartley. This prize is for large statement pieces, at least 1.5m on one side, as this is the most popular and in-demand artwork on Bluethumb.

Co-Founders Ed and George Hartley at the Melbourne Bluethumb Gallery launch.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty of holding events, again we’re hosting the awards ceremony virtually on Instagram Live on 18th November, building on our highly successful lockdown events. And thanks to our major sponsor 1 Denison, we’re continuing our new tradition of hosting a winners exhibition in early 2022 in their grand exhibition space.

The prestigious 1 Denison will again host our acclaimed winners exhibition.

Our Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 Judging Panel

The introduction of our artist judging panel led to last year’s winners being arguably our best yet. Including some of Australia’s most-renowned artists, plus our reigning Bluethumb Art Prize holder, this year’s panel is diverse and qualified and will not only pick great winners, but continue to get our prize and our artists national attention.⁠

From left to right: Ken Done, Bronwyn Bancroft, Hubert Pareroultja and Kathrin Longhurst.

  • Ken Done: Australia’s most famous living artist and a national treasure
  • Bronwyn Bancroft: the first Indigenous artist and fashion designer to show at Paris Fashion Week
  • Hubert Pareroultja: the reigning Bluethumb Art Prize holder and winner of the 2020 Wynne Prize
  • Kathrin Longhurst: this year’s Packing Room Prize winner


The finalists will be shortlisted by the Bluethumb selection panel before being handed over to our judges, including Head of Art Advisory Amélia Davis, Interior Designer Alexandra Stavrou and Bluethumb Art Prize Director Freddy Grant.

This Year’s Prizes

Thanks to our sponsors 1 Denison, Fantastic Framing and Eckersley’s Art & Craft, we’re able to offer more prizes than ever and a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our artists. All winners will receive cash prizes and be invited to exhibit at the hugely successful Bluethumb Art Prize Winners Exhibition at 1 Denison next year. Runners-up will receive a $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft gift voucher to stock up on art supplies.

Ilawanti Ungkutjuru Ken receives the Bluethumb Art Prize Other Media Award in 2018. Since then Ilawanti has established herself in the Australian art consciousness, winning the Works on Paper Award in the Telstra NATSIAA.

Overall Winner

Bluethumb Art Prize: $20,000

Category Awards

Abstract Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Landscape Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Portrait Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Still Life Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Photography Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Digital Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Sculpture Award: $3,000
Runner-Up sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft: $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft Voucher

Special Awards

Founders’ Award (details above): $3,000
People’s Choice Award (voted for online from the finalists) sponsored by Fantastic Framing: $3,000

The Art Prize for Our 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.”

Bluethumb Art Prize

Bluethumb Art Prize judge Ken Done.

Entries open 8th October and close 31st October. More details on how to enter will be released next week.

Artists, it’s time to get in the studio!

Art Collector’s Home: Photographer Melinda Hodges


  1. Do you need to live in Australia to enter? Thank you.

    • Grace Wye says:

      Hi Caroline,

      Thanks for your question – Bluethumb is for Australian residents only, so you’ll need to be in Australia to enter. Thanks!

  2. Laural Retz says:

    Great news that Digital Art is included in the BT Art Prize 2021. If we are not yet allowed to list our Digital Art pieces for sale with BT how do we include them for consideration in the Prize? Or have I missed something? Last time I checked BT wasn’t allowing artists to upload Digital Art. Would love clarification.

    • Grace Wye says:

      Hi Laural,

      Thanks for checking in about this! We will have our digital applications on the site up and running by the time entries open. For now, you’re more than welcome to send through 5 – 7 examples of your digital art to us at [email protected] 🙂

      Look forward to seeing your work!
      Grace @ Bluethumb

  3. Carmel says:

    How doI enter your art prize.?

  4. hannah becroft says:

    I would like to apply for this exciting opportunity,
    Should I hold off on posting the particular painting on my Bluethumb account?

    Thanks for your support!

    • Grace Wye says:

      Hi Hannah,

      As entries open on the 8th please feel free to upload the paintings you have in mind sometime within the next few days 🙂

      Grace @ Bluethumb

  5. Debbie Paton says:

    How do I as an artist get onto Bluethumb?

  6. Peter Bryan says:

    Hello Bluethumb,

    I am an established contemporary artist and interested in joining your group of artists.
    Please let me know how to apply.
    Peter Bryan.

    • Grace Wye says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for reaching out! We’re thrilled you’d like to start selling your work on bluethumb and are sure you’ll be happy with our service. You can start selling today! Check out to find out all you need to know and make your profile.

  7. Karen Muscat says:

    Do the works entered need to already be uploaded to BlueThumb for sale by the 8th or can you upload a new work before the close date of 1 Nov and enter works uploaded post 8 October. Also what if the work entered is sold?

  8. Marjune Provido says:

    Hi Bluethumb,

    How to join the competition?

  9. Fangmin Wu says:

    Hi There,
    Can I enter a drawing (charcoal on paper) for this prize?

    Fangmin Wu

  10. Gosia says:

    Hi, When is the closing date for entries?

  11. scott jackson says:

    Hi Bluethumb
    Just looking for the rules and conditions of entry for the 2021 Bluethumb art prize ?
    …does the artwork have to be painted in 2021 ?
    scott jackson

  12. Jackie Moss says:

    Hi Bluethumb,
    Just wondering if the availability status of the works submitted would need to be changed to ‘unavailable’ during the art prize period ?
    Ie. What happens if they sell beforehand?


    • Grace Wye says:

      Hi Jackie,

      The artwork is fine to sell once it’s been entered. It just needs to be available upon entry 🙂

      Also, if a piece you’ve entered sells and you change your mind and choose to enter another piece, you won’t be able to enter the sold piece back into the prize.

      Hope this helps!
      Grace @ Bluethumb

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