Past Bluethumb Art Prize Winners & Finalists: Where Are They Now?

Entries for this year’s Bluethumb Art Prize open this Thursday! It’s an exciting time, and we can’t wait to see the final submissions of established and emerging Australian artists. To curb our enthusiasm, we decided to look back at the winners and finalists of previous years. These artists have continued to produce incredible work, to push boundaries, and to cement their place in Australia’s art consciousness.

Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 Winner: Loribelle Spirovski

Loribelle in front of her artwork ‘Homme 280’.

Inspired by Arvo Pärt’s ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’, Loribelle Spirovski’s winning portrait, Mirror into Mirror, is a study of the jewel-like qualities of flesh. The subject of the oil painting –  which was created during one of Melbourne’s notorious lockdowns – is Loribelle’s husband, Simon. With Simon being the only interaction Loribelle had during lockdown, the winning portrait is thus a reflection of her own isolation. 

Winning art work by Loribelle. Mirror into Mirror.

Winning portrait, ‘Mirror Into Mirror,’ by Loribelle Spirovski.

Since taking out the top prize in 2021, collectable artist, Loribelle Spirovski, has gone on to collaborate with George Washingmachine and Simon Tedeschi on album cover art for The Jazz. She also worked on the book cover art for Simon Tedeschi’s, Fugitive.

‘Marsyas, Flayed’ by Loribelle Spirovski.

In March 2022, Loribelle had her work exhibited at HOFA Gallery’s all-female group exhibition, ‘The Divine.’ The exhibition featured twelve female artists from twelve different countries to bring attention to the lack of female artist representation within contemporary gallery settings. 

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Finalist: Brooke Walker

Brooke Walker in the studio.

Brooke Walker‘s entry to last year’s art prize was a noticeable deviation from her signature style. A usual devotee to providing a ‘voice to the voiceless’, her submission told the narrative of environmental activist, goldsmith and artist, Lara Tilbrook. Still, the essence of her work touches on the same important message of wildlife, our home and conservation.

Lara Tilbrook, Jeannie’s Mother by Brooke Walker.

Brooke is now a collectable artist on Bluethumb, demonstrating a firm and powerful understanding of various media: oil, charcoal and sculpture. More recently, Brooke’s work has been selected as finalist entries to some of the most prestigious art prizes in the country, such as the Lester Prize, a fine art portraiture prize, and the The Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

“I’ve been constantly searching, in my arts practice, for a way to bring the painted creation into the space of the viewer,” Brook explains on her Clownfish Sculpture. “The glass allows the painting to interact with the outside world through the shadow play of the Clownfish being cast in the changing light.”

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Finalist: Ross Morgan

Local Adelaide artists: Ross Morgan

Ross Morgan at work.

Collectable artist Ross Morgan draws inspiration from childhood memories of ‘exploring the farm filled with interesting creatures, spaces, old machinery and historical objects’, simultaneously weaving through a depth of timeless narratives into his works of art. This sentiment is ever-present in each of Ross’s pieces and continues to make his work distinct and familiar.

Ross Morgan’s entry Resttlement was part of a narrative series titled ‘The Diver, The Chicken and The Fox’.

Following our art prize, SA-based artist Ross Morgan teamed up with author Kaliah Tsakalidis to produce the stunning children’s book Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours earlier this year. Filled with imagination, beauty and surprise, the collaboration brings together Kaliah’s rhythmic prose with Ross’s fantastical full-page illustrations.

Author Kaliah Tsakalidis and illustrator Ross Morgan at the opening night.

Author Kaliah Tsakalidis and illustrator Ross Morgan at the Molly Moores opening night held in our Adelaide Gallery.

In more recent events, Ross was selected as a finalist in the 2021 Kennedy Art Prize for his piece, The Martian and The Butterfly. As part of an ongoing series called ‘The Companion’, the theme of the series is an exploration of the special connection between animals and humans.

The finalist entry to this year’s Kennedy Art Prize, The Martian and The Butterfly (2).

People’s Choice Award 2020 Winner: Todd Simpson

In line with his other hyperrealistic work, Todd Simpson took home last year’s People’s Choice award with his Tokyo scene, Reflections. The piece is part of a series exploring the beauty that can be found in our everyday urban environment, and mixes photographic technique with airbrush painting techniques. Todd was therefore invited into our winners exhibition that took place at 1 Denison this year.

Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition

Todd’s work showing centre-placed in the Winners exhibition.

Collectable artist Todd – he’s been a winner or finalist in many of Australia’s and New Zealand’s biggest art prizes – was one of three Bluethumb artists to work closely with the team and Disney Australia in a collaboration towards the end of 2020. The collaboration focused on the story of Disney’s Oscar-winning release Soul. Click here to read more about the project and Todd’s process throughout.

We were lucky to catch some of Todd’s process for the collaboration; he also brought by a few of his favourite pieces for us to admire!

While remaining true to his signature cityscapes, Todd has branched across styles and disciplines over the past twelve months. Today you’ll find intriguing sculptural work, as well as still life pieces and a return to portraiture. Only a few days ago was Todd selected as a semi-finalist in the 2021 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. We’re rooting for you, Todd!

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Winner: Hubert Pareroultja

2020 was unkind to many of us, but it was a huge year for senior Western Arrarnta-Luritja artist Hubert Pareroultja. Not only did his circular landscape piece Mt Giles, MacDonnell Ranges earn him the place as the overall winner of the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020, he was also announced the winner of the esteemed Wynne Prize. As we said – it was a big year!

Through the veil of time watercolour on silk screen mesh Gunga (pandanus) and natural bush dyes – work by Hubert Pareroultja and Mervyn Rubuntja, from Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre.

Hubert Pareroultja is a well-known and much-respected artist of the lltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre. Hubert frequents events, markets and exhibitions with the centre and is actively involved with their pursuits. In collaboration with fellow collectable artist Mervyn Rubuntja, their ingenious watercolour on silk screens work won the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award at this year’s Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

Abstract Award 2020 Winner: Kelilah Taylor-Ware

Bluethumb Art Prize Winners Exhibition

This stunning trifecta of artworks by Kelilah Taylor-Ware was on display at our Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition earlier this year at 1 Denison.

Much like her artist siblings, Kelilah Taylor-Ware employs the influence of the great-grandmother Millie Taylor and mother Kelly Taylor within her outstanding artwork. Kelilah’s winning entry to the 2020 Abstract Award, Family Day Out, depicts the setting of being on country, spending the day out collecting bush foods such as witchetty grubs, honey ants and quandongs with her family.

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Abstract Award Winner

Family Day Out was Kelilah’s winning entry.

Since her win, Kelilah Taylor-Ware has moved from strength to strength on Bluethumb, selling out at our Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition. Last Christmas, the Taylor-Ware family joined forces with Disney Australia on a candid collaboration, which celebrated the magic of Christmas with family. Click here to read more on the project and an interview with the family.

Kelilah and her mother Kelly Taylor working on the stars from the collaboration with Disney Australia last year.

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Finalist: T’keyah Ware

Kelilah’s sister, T’keyah Ware, was also a finalist in last year’s Bluethumb Art Prize, and has gone on with the sisters’ mother Kelly Taylor in many achievements, including an interview with Vogue Living and winning the Royal Flying Doctors Competition as a mother-daughter duo. Kelly and T’keyah were chosen to create a design for the new range of RFDS uniforms to reflect their role in supporting remote communities.

T’Keyah Ware and Kelly Taylor unveiled their commissioned work to launch the Flying Doctor’s NAIDOC Week celebrations. Credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service

Bluethumb Art Prize Winner 2018: Hyunji Kim

Korean-born artist Hyunji Kim was living in Melbourne back in 2018 when she won the Bluethumb Art Prize as the overall winner. As an artist with incredible skill but a foreign resident status, entering art prizes during her time in Australia wasn’t without its challenges. The announcement as the prize’s overall winner came as a shock to Kim, with the judging panel endorsing her entry Painless (Luke) as their favourite. Hyunji Kim commented on the piece: “Through Luke’s face, I wanted to explore the possible anxieties faced by individuals of our generation, living in the first world.”

Melbourne Art Mart Featuring Luke, the winner of the Bluethumb Art Prize 2018

Shortly after the 2018 Bluethumb Art Prize, Luke by Kim Hyunji was one of a selection of artworks in Bluethumb’s Melbourne Art Mart event, a response to some of the harrowing statistics reported on the income of Australian artists during the last Melbourne Art Fair.

Since her win three years ago, much has changed for Kim and her goals and achievements have only seemed to work in her favour. Soon after the prize, Kim took part in group exhibitions in Melbourne, ran solo shows in Sydney and was celebrated by youth media channel Vice and sports brand Adidas, which in turn gained more and more recognition for her unique work with an Australian audience.  She is now residing back in Seoul and continues to gain momentum as a progressive, forward-thinking artist.

Submissions for the 2021 Bluethumb Art Prize close 31st October. See if you can spot the next big names in art by checking out the entries here.

Kathrin Longurst sitting next to her Packing Room winning art.
Packing Room Prize Winner Kathrin Longhurst Shares Her Artist Picks

One Comment

  1. Jan Naylor says:

    Great to keep track of these deserving winners

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