Bluethumb Art Prize 18: Finalists Announced

We’re announcing our shortlist of 30 finalists for Australia’s biggest new art prize, the Bluethumb Art Prize 18. 

As a team, it was our job to painstakingly whittle down the huge initial list of 2,346 entries to a shortlist of 100 semi-finalists right here in the office. 

From there, we handed the hardest decisions of all over to an eclectic industry judging panel of twelve, including leading Indigenous art curator and expert, Glenn Isager-Pilkington, CEO of the Contemporary Arts Precinct, Marcus Westbury, Queer Art Prize curator, Jimmy Twin and even celebrity personality, Gina Liano.

Art prize 2017

Our art prize last year was a huge success. We can’t wait to host our 2018 exhibition.

Together they’ve decided on a diverse selection of varied mediums and subject matter, from fine art photography to painterly abstracts. The pieces are available for sale throughout the entire process of judging and exhibition.

Included in the shortlist are some well-known Bluethumb names, such as Roddy Kerr. Judge Jimmy Twin, Queer Art Prize curator, says of Roddy’s piece: “With the bold flair and striking colour choices of classic surrealistic pieces, the deceptive symmetry and elegant simplicity of this piece gives the dice a sense of belonging, as if it was meant to be there all along.”

Art Prize finalist

Sold art prize finalist piece, God Threw A Deuce by Roddy Kerr.

We have also welcomed many new artists onto Bluethumb as entrants and finalists of the prize, such as acclaimed emerging artist Ben Howe. “Wayfarer by Ben Howe is a fascinating piece,” says judge Gina Liano about one of her favourite works in this year’s finalists. “At first glance you’re captured by the beauty and the serenity of the image of a man who looks peaceful and complete amongst flowers and butterflies. The contrasting image of the skeleton and the barren garden attached to his back, somewhat in his shadow, gives the sense of a rebirth. This is a fascinating piece of art that tells so many stories. The artist’s attention to detail from the eyelids to the hands shows a stunning talent.”

As an online art gallery open to all Australian artists, one of our primary aims for the  art prize was to remove the barriers that often prevent artists from entering art prizes – namely cost, difficulty and bias.

For this reason, we’re absolutely thrilled to note the diversity of finalist artists, and in particular the fact that 60% are women and 13% are Indigenous artists from remote Indigenous art centres. This last statistic is particularly welcome given Bluethumb’s investment into a unique and centralised platform for art centres to sell their work online.

Art Prize finalst

Uruna Tjina (James Range, NT) by Hubert Pareroultja of Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Gallery.

With (nearly) two successful art prizes under our belt we’re proud to stand as an excellent online platform for art prizes. By removing physical barriers and costs, more artists are entering prizes than ever. We’ve already partnered with the South Australian Living Artists festival (SALA), the Helpmann Academy and the ANL Mission to Seafarers Maritime Art Prize, helping to bring each art prize to life by hosting online and reaching as many people as possible.

art prize partner

Last year we partnered with the Mission to Seafarers to help bring their art prize to life. We’re looking forwards to attending the exhibition once again this year!

We’ll be announcing four category awards on opening night, each valued at $2,000: Works on Canvas and Board, Works on Paper, Photography and Other Media. The most outstanding of these four artworks will receive an overall prize of $10,000.

In addition to these prizes, all 100 semi-finalists are eligible for the People’s Choice Award, so there’s no need to worry if your favourite artwork didn’t quite make the cut. Voting remains open until the 15th of April here. As an added incentive, voters who choose five pieces go into the running for a $500 Bluethumb Gift Voucher. 

The People’s Choice Award is valued at $2,000, bringing the total prize pool to $20,000; double that of last year’s inaugural prize.

Art prize finalist

Chrysanthemum boy by Rex Turnbull.

Not only does the evening represent the opportunity to admire incredible Australian artwork, but it’s also a fantastic chance for our team and our growing online artistic community to meet one another in person. We can’t wait!

The finalist exhibition and awards ceremony will open on 12th April at Bluethumb HQ (81 Sackville St, Collingwood), and remain open until the 15th. See here for details.

Click here to see the list of finalists in full.

Crosspoint Perceptions: Our Artist-led Pop-up Exhibition


  1. Jayne Bowman says:

    Thank you for your email. I will be interested is this competition, maybe next year. I am not a professional artist, although I have painted on and off all my life. Can I enter and how would I go about entering?
    Kind Regards

    • Megan George says:

      Hi Jayne, the Bluethumb Art Prize is open to all entries! To enter next year, you simply need to be signed up as an artist to Bluethumb, and once entries open you will be able enter one of your artworks by checking a small box in the artwork information. Stay tuned for when entries open, and good luck!

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