An Evening at the ANL Mission to Seafarers Maritime Art Prize

This week saw the opening of the ANL Mission to Seafarers Maritime Art Prize. Naturally, as the online hosts of the prize, Bluethumb was in attendance.

The art prize is essentially a fundraising function of not-for-profit organisation Mission to Seafarers, which provides a variety of vital services to seafarers all around the world. Specifically, these services might take the form of anything from practical matters, such as access to communication with family members, to spiritual and mental health services such as chaplaincy and grief counselling.


A stately entryway to the Mission to Seafarers’ building.

The art prize, proudly supported by global shipping carrier company ANL, is therefore a fantastic support mechanism as well as an important, stand alone event on the Australian arts calendar. Since 2002, the prize has grown significantly in both size and recognition. “The exhibition promotes all things maritime, not just ships, and helps raise awareness for seafarers’ welfare” says Sue Dight,Chief Manager of MtSF Victoria.

This year, the prize was once again held in the beautiful Mission to Seafarers building in Docklands. With its stunning, rich chapel, stained glass windows and even an observatory-like domed ceiling, the grand architecture provided a stunning backdrop for the varied selection of works on show.

exhibition room

The incredible ‘domed’ room in the MtSF building, where part of the exhibition was displayed.

The overall quality of the artwork was extremely high, and enjoyable for a diverse crowd of people. “Artists have drawn on traditional and innovative methods to create the artworks featured in this year’s ANL Maritime Prize,” says curator, Katherine Edwards.

“Using  a variety of mediums including oil, watercolour, ink, charcoal, recycled materials, even sea algae, to dazzling effect, a showcase of dynamic artworks is on offer,” Katherine continues. “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.”

Looking at a painting

The works on show were diverse and consistently high quality.

The winner of the 2017 prize, valued at $15,000, was Ted Dansey, with a slightly more traditional watercolour work entitled Workhorse on the Orwell

artist with painting

Ted Dansey with his winning piece Workhorse on the Orwell.

Ted said that he was inspired to create the work when on a holiday in the UK. “I was staying not far from [the site of the painting] in Ipswich and the people I was staying with said ‘Why don’t you go down and have a look at our wharf?’ So I went down, had a look and thought it was fantastic. I did a sketch on site – I paint a lot on site too, but nothing as big as this,” said Ted, gesturing towards the artwork. “So I did a small painting during the trip, about 30cm wide, and I thought to myself, ‘When I get home I’m going to do a larger painting of that.’ This is how it turned out. Sometimes you have belief in something, and I had a bit of belief in this one.”

Bluethumb team

Bluethumb’s PR and communications manager Freddy, curator Ashley and marketing communications assistant Matilda with MtSF winner Ted Dansey.

“I’ve entered the prize before, but have never gotten so far. It’s a great feeling. Making art isn’t really hard work. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, but at the end of the day it’s a bit of paper – if it doesn’t work out, I’ll do it again.”

According to Sue Dight, Chief Manager at the Victorian arm of the Mission, this year the decision was especially difficult for the judging panel, which included Bluethumb curator Ashley Lumb. “The selection process took a couple of hours,” says Sue. “With any art prize there are always different opinions to contend with, but we all came to a consensus in the end.”

Mary Hyde

Mary Hyde with her piece Another Cargo Loaded, winner of the ASP Traditional award valued at $5000.

This year, says Sue, “there are more contemporary works sneaking into the competition, which is wonderful. Whilst there is an audience for traditional works, there’s a wider audience for contemporary works.” Going forwards, she says, “we’d love to see [more] young and emerging artists getting involved.”

portrait on a wall

The winner of the emerging artist award, Self Portrait as the Blind Captain by Jamie Preisz.

This year the emerging artist award went to Jamie Preisz, for his contemporary painting Self Portrait as the Blind Captain. There were also several other acquisitive and non-acquisitive awards given out for different categories. Chris Rowe took out the non-acquisitive Nevile & co ‘Runners up’ award valued at $2,000, with Guardians of an Unknown Port 2017, Mary Hyde won the acquisitive ASP “Best in Traditional Maritime Art Award” valued at $5,000 with her piece Another Cargo Loaded (pictured above), and Robert J Williams was awarded the Best in Traditional Maritime Art Award ‘Runners up’ for his piece Telegraph.

Find all the winners, finalists and entrants on Bluethumb here.

Bluethumb’s Art Centres at TARNANTHI 2017

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