Building on Success: Last Year’s Bluethumb Art Prize Finalists
With the next Bluethumb Art Prize just around the corner, we decided to catch up with some of the finalists from the inaugural prize. Although the past eight months have flown by, these artists have continued to produce outstanding work, and are steadily making their mark on the Australian art scene. Read on to find out what they’ve been up to of late.
Since winning the prize, Kirsten Sivyer has seen some fantastic publicity through several media outlets and gallery curators since her January win. In fact, January turned out to be a hugely exciting month for Kirsten, as she announced that she was pregnant in the weeks following the prize.
During her first trimester Kirsten took a short hiatus from painting due to the safety hazards of working with oil paints. After about four months she began to teach art privately, as well as pick up unfinished paintings from where she left off. “It was so amazing to start painting again and get back to that creative space,” says Kirsten.
“I felt my attention to detail had improved and I was working smarter and more intuitively. The depth in the work was being achieved with greater ease which gave it a freshness that can sometimes be lost when a painting is struggled with or overworked.”
Kirsten’s most recent paintings are currently on exhibition at the Southern Art & Craft Trail (16 September – 8 October). She is currently in the process of settling into a new home in Albany with her husband and pets as well as getting her studio space ready and – most excitingly of all – expecting her little fellow to arrive early November.
A few of the Bluethumb artists that Kirsten most admires are: Maz Dixon, Rex Turnbull, Joanna Poulson, James Green, Tom Christopherson, Ray Saunderson, Laura E. Kennedy, Roz McQuillan, Mona Choo, Jason Moad and Benjamin V. Walsh.
Sydney based artist Loribelle Spirovski has had a big year since taking part in the Bluethumb Art Prize. While Loribelle is still an emerging artist, in 2017 alone she has been selected for ten separate art prizes, has won her first art prize (Cambridge Studio Portrait Prize) and had her first solo exhibition.
While it all sounds super exciting, Loribelle mentions that the Archibald Prize was the pinnacle: “the highlight of my year was definitely getting selected for the Archibald Prize. It’s my fourth year trying, and only my fifth year practicing art, so I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for being chosen.”
More recently, in celebration of her year-long residency, Loribelle is running her second solo exhibition at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery titled ‘Diaspora’. “I’m so excited to finally showcase this body of work,” says Loribelle of the exhibition. “As both a child of immigrants and an immigrant myself, I see ‘Diaspora’ as a journey towards becoming; of the pathways that people take towards recreating themselves in a new place.”
Loribelle is currently working on several commissioned paintings, and says that she is inspired by a few artists on Bluethumb: “at the moment, I love the very dark, atmospheric work of both Stephen Homewood, Thomas Sionnach, Kylie Fogarty‘s beautiful ink drawings, Robyn Burgess‘s cool abstract work, and Kerry Russell‘s gorgeous landscapes.”
“In between all of this,” says Loribelle, “I’ve been making more sales than ever (special mention to Bluethumb here, who have been such an amazing platform for getting my work out to buyers) and countless workshops and presentations at various schools.” We’re so excited to see where Loribelle next takes her work!
Another finalist of the Bluethumb prize, Perth-based artist Daevid Anderson, is known for his surrealist portraits and paintings. Daevid has recently come home from his travels in Japan, with exciting news: his piece Sheila has been selected as a semi finalist for the 2017 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. In his words, “The Doug Moran is really the most exciting news for me recently, as it’s the first time I’ve been a semi-finalist. The judges are selecting the finalists at the moment, so wish me luck!”
While Daevid took a break from painting and drawing during his trip to Japan, he found that the country’s environment – simultaneously crazy and beautiful – served as fantastic inspiration for a new series. He would only tell us that the series is “incredibly time-consuming, and [isn’t] sure yet whether the end result will be worth it!”. Nevertheless, we can’t wait to see!
Daevid says that he’s been thrilled to see the increasing number of pieces available through Bluethumb from Aboriginal Art Centres. “It’s been great to see a number of Aboriginal Art Centres represented on Bluethumb. Western Australia has some of the best Aboriginal artists in the country, and [Bluethumb] is a great way to get their work out to a broader market.”
Nicole Maguire is a Sydney based artist, and is best known for her detailed oil paintings in abstract landscapes. Since her involvement in the Bluethumb Art Prize, she has successfully been developing her brand as an artist, and ran her first solo exhibition in Sydney early this year. “It was at Aro, a new gallery which opened last year in Darlinghurst” says Nicole. “It definitely was an amazing experience to see my work displayed in one physical space.”
Her exhibition was titled Nymphs and Nomads, a series of abstract landscapes, nymph-like spirits in nature and animals based on Nicole’s sketches at Bondi Beach.
The exhibition was a success and guided Nicole towards the next step in her art career. “I also loved meeting other artists and art enthusiasts,” she added about the exhibition. “It’s great to see so much passion for the arts.” Nicole was also recently featured in Creative Artist Magazine (issue #19), where she wrote and illustrated for her very first painting tutorial.
At the moment, Nicole is busily producing a new body of work. Utilizing a different set of tools, Nicole is using large Japanese sumi brushes and variations in mediums, “I am excited at how it’s becoming more expressive than anything I’ve done before.” Nicole mentions that the warmer weather has influenced the subject matter, being mostly around the Sydney Harbour where she lives.
In terms of her favourite artists on Bluethumb, Nicole tells us, “…I love Kelly Jade King‘s portrayal of Bob Dylan”, while also mentioning several other artists, such as John Louis Lloyd, Christine Kyprianon, Joanne Duffy, Anna Zygmunt and fellow Taswegian Rick Jerrems.”
It’s no secret that Kim Leutwyler is another finalist who’s had some amazing success in the last few months. Like Loribelle, Kim was selected as a finalist for the Archibald Prize 2017, was also ranked 1st out of the 50 most influential LGBTIQ+ allied Australians in Cosmopolitan Australia and The LOTL Power List in LOTL (Lesbians On The Loose).
Kim’s consistent imagery sends an underlying feminist message through her art. In her words, “my work explores the line between glorification, objectification and modification, using patterns and abstractions from each subject’s local and social environment as a subtle vernacular to portray the fluidity and complexities of identity.”
More recently, one of her pieces has been selected for the Portia Geach Memorial Award, an all-female exhibition currently running at S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney (20 October – 26 November). In an excited post on Instagram, Kim says of the piece that, “in this self portrait, I layer abstraction with small triangular landscapes depicting scenes from my travels around Australia.”
You can also find Kim’s art at the Bondi Sea Wall, where she’s painted a mural that, in a sense, touches on the current debate around marriage equality. “There’s a lot of hate going round these days, so I thought I’d make a mural about love.”