MtSV 2016 ANL Maritime Art Prize – Paving the Way for Art Prizes with bluethumb

Last night at the historic Mission to Seafarers Docklands building, a beautiful example of the Arts and Crafts style in Melbourne, the local art crowd descended. “Known by seafarers as the ‘Flying Angel Club’, the building has operated as a ‘home away from home’ for visiting crew since 1917,” explains Andrea Fleming, the CEO of Mission to Seafarers Victoria. “This work is largely supported by volunteers, members, sponsors and donors and with thanks to the contributing artists, the ANL Maritime Art Exhibition not only shares an insight into all things maritime, this event is a major fundraising initiative for the charity annually.”

The Mission to Seafarers Docklands BuildingThe entrance to the 99 year old MtSV Docklands building

Despite huge improvements in conditions on board ships and much stricter regulations since the 1800s when the mission first opened, seafarers still face gruelling work schedules and suffer from loneliness and separation from loved ones. A major study commissioned by The International Transport Workers’ Federation found almost 50% of seafarers reported working 85 hour weeks or more and one in four had fallen asleep while on watch.

The study concludes “seafarers’ fatigue is an occupational health and safety issue that is common and widespread” and allowing vessels to be manned by fatigued seafarers could lead not only to economic losses, but also serious health problems and even environmental disasters. Put into context, the Mission to Seafarers’ “home away from home” and the fundraising the ANL Maritime Art Exhibition makes possible seem all the more vital.

bluethumb curator and ANL Maritime Art Exhibition selector Janni Fewster discusses one of her favourite entries, Tom and Eva by Tom O’Callaghan, with bluethumb marketing manager Esther Tankhilevich

The variety and quality of the finalists’ artwork is stunning. Art enthusiasts with a love for moodily lit oils, soft scenic watercolours, acrylic abstracts or woven seaweed (seriously) can get their nautical art fix. “A showcase of dynamic artworks is on offer,” says the exhibition’s curator, Katherine Edwards. “Artists have responded to the recurring theme ‘The Relationship between Humanity and the Sea’ in startling and seductive ways to draw the viewer in, culminating in a thought provoking and technically impressive exhibition of sea-inspired imagery.”

dreamliner-my-relationship-to-the-sea-jason-moad-bluethumb-artDreamliner (My Relationship to the Sea) by Jason Moad

It was good to see many bluethumb favourites make it into the finals, including surreal realist Jason Moad. “I entered the prize a few years ago, but the calibre of this year’s entries is outstanding,” says Moad. His finalist oil painting Dreamliner (My Relationship to the Sea) is surprisingly autobiographical for a landlubber. “I am fascinated and terrified of the sea in equal measure but the truth is, most of my contact with the ocean is mediated through print. The books that make up my picture represent the topics that most intrigue me about the subject.”

The finalists on display in the breathtaking Norla Dome galleryThe finalists on display in the breathtaking Norla Dome gallery

This year bluethumb are honoured to be the online partner of the ANL Maritime Art Prize and Exhibition, showcasing all the entrants on our award-winning website and app with a groundbreaking hosting platform. “Everyone at bluethumb has relished the task of hosting the art prize,” says bluethumb co-founder and managing director Ed Hartley. “A huge amount of work, in a short period of time, has gone into making this happen and we’d like to extend a special thanks to Sue Dight from MtSV for her tireless work and good humour.

“Critically this event heralds a landmark change in the way art prizes of the future will be run. No longer does every single art prize in Australia need to build and maintain its own technology platform at considerable expense. Nor will they have to endure the significant administrative task faced by volunteers in collating hundreds of artist entries at the 11th hour.

“This coupled with the network of thousands of artists and art lovers that bluethumb brings to the event means that the art prizes we all love, that support great causes like the wellbeing of seafarers, will have a bright future.”

MtSV 2016 ANL Maritime Art Prize AnnouncementA packed room awaits the judging panel’s decision

The night climaxed with the announcement of the winners selected by judges Libby Edward (Libby Edwards Galleries), Graeme H Williams (CIMAM) and Anne Scott Wilson (PhD, Deakin University). Barbara Tyson took home the main prize, the $15,000 ANL Maritime Art Award, with her energetic oil painted on sea charts, Voyagers Return. “Returning from a sea journey brings the excitement of an adventure’s end and reflections of the voyage that was,” says Tyson about her work. “Painted over sea charts used for passage planning in the Pacific Ocean, it’s that point in a journey where one adventure ends and another begins.” The judges unanimously described the painting as a winner on every level. “It is very pleasing with balance between formal aesthetic and conceptual qualities, considered layering created a satisfying work to look at both close up and far away with a glossy surface that keeps the viewer dreaming.” 

voyagers-return-barbara-tyson-bluethumb-artThe winning painting: Voyagers Return by Barbara Tyson

The other winners last night were Jane Flowers (Nevile & Co “Runners Up” prize) for her delightful painting of a cheeky seal, Opportunity; Julian Bruer (Best in Traditional Maritime Art Award) for her epic work, The Four Days Battle – 1666and Catherine Stringer (Bendigo Wealth “Emerging Artist Award”) for her novel but moving seaweed and paper dress, Lost at Sea.

lost-at-sea-catherine-stringer-bluethumb-artEmerging Artist Award: Lost at Sea by Catherine Stringer

The winning artworks and all shortlisted entries are open to the public daily between 12pm and 6pm at the annual exhibition until 21st October. Find all the details on the Mission to Seafarers website.

The full exhibition can also be viewed and purchased online on bluethumb.

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