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Bluethumb Art Prize 2021: Finalists Just Announced!

It’s been a little less than ten days since we closed entries to the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021, and what a selection of works we have! 2021 has been the first year artists could enter up to three artworks, resulting in over 6,500 submissions (6,542 to be exact). It’s a staggering number – possibly an Australian record – and smashed our previous record by over 4,000!

It’s no surprise it’s taken many hours and many late nights of careful examination and heated discussions to choose this year’s finalists; a near impossible task due to the high standard of entries. A HUGE thank you to all the artists who entered! Please don’t be disheartened if this year isn’t your year. We’re so lucky to live in a country with such a unique and talented pool of creatives and are humbled to represent so many of you on Bluethumb.

We’re thrilled today to announce the 400 finalists of this year’s art prize, spanning across more categories and awards than ever before. You can check out the full list here or scroll on for a focus on just a few of this year’s finalists.

Cast Your Vote in the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 People’s Choice Award

Voting is now open for our People’s Choice Award. Click here to see all 400 finalists and vote for your five favourite artworks. You can help your favourite artists get closer to winning our People’s Choice Award, as well as a chance to win one of your favourite artworks valued up to $2,000. It’s a win-win!

Grace Huang: Telling Melbourne’s Tale

Based in Melbourne, Grace Huang approaches painting as a way to express her thoughts and emotions. With an interest in exploring the art and reality of everyday life, Grace aims to deliver her ideas to a viewer in a participatory way, inviting their own imagination and contribution to the piece. She thinks, to a certain extent, we all explore the art world from different perspectives.

Now Entry by Grace Huang, her finalist entry to Bluethumb Art Prize 2021.

Grace Huang’s finalist entry to this year’s art prize depicts a typical urban landscape scene: The street art, the modern buildings in the far distance and the mischievous street sign display an inherently Melbournian view. The slight defacing of the street sign to read ‘NOW ENTRY’ adds a sense of humour to what Grace calls an otherwise “oppressive and dull atmosphere, and forms the contradiction of contrast”.

Grace also comments: “I aim to create this worth-pondering painting to the viewers, suggest that the tales are unable to tell; perhaps they are about the social problems, or other mysteries in urban living every day.
My studies ask us to review the commonplace, the muse upon the extraordinary of the ordinary. To me, urban landscapes are not places of bleak desolation, but places richly inscribed with endlessly overlapping meanings, occurrences, presences and memories.”

Loribelle Spirovski: Portrait Prize Royalty

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Loribelle with her boundary pushing, experience-informed work.

Loribelle Spirovski works primarily in abstracted portraiture. Her work has frequented prize finalist exhibitions for over ten years, including multiple occasions in the Bluethumb Art Prize, the Archibald, Doug Moran, Portia Geach and many others. This year she was crowned the winner of the 2021 Naked and Nude art prize. She cites her work as inspired by “artists as varied as Francis Bacon, with his characteristically claustrophobic spatial relationships between figures and their surrounds, David Lynch’s dreamlike surrealism, and Olivier Messiaen’s static musical tones,” which meet the influences of her personal experiences. “My own inner conflicts were perhaps the earliest and most formative influences on my art – I paint from the interior to recalibrate, to defragment and to liberate.”

Homme 280 is 1 of Loribelle’s finalist entries in this year’s art prize.

Loribelle Spirovski considers her Homme series as “the most iconic and recognisable in [her] entire artistic output”. Vibrant backgrounds and gestural lines created by squeezing paint directly from the tube onto the canvas surface create the distinct character of the series. “The Homme series has grown from an initial place for experimentation and improvisation with the human form into a recognisable style that celebrates not just male beauty but beauty across all genders and ethnicities,” Loribelle explains.

“This particular Homme holds a special place for me, as it was the first piece painted in my new studio after lockdown ended. It is the largest of the Homme series and represents a celebration of overcoming a very challenging period in my own personal life as well as the collective experience of humanity. It is a portrait of hope and resilience in a changing world.”

Andrew Railton: A Bluethumb Newcomer

Embarking down a path as a motion picture camera assistant in the film and TV industry has by osmosis shaped the approach Andrew Railton takes to his own photography. A newcomer to Bluethumb, Andrew is passionate about the effect technological advancements are making on the Australian population, and, in turn, our human experience.

Andrew Railton’s finalist entry, The Party’s Over, is one of the many incredible photographs submitted this year.

“Viewed through an Australian lens, I am exploring how I recall Australia was in the time of my childhood and formative years,” Andrew explains on his entry. “As I compare what I recall from my experiences, with what I see and feel in Australia today, I can’t help but feel we have lost so much of our humanity, our humility, and our identity as Australians. We have changed a lot in that time, but have we lost touch with what makes us Australian? I am particularly concerned with how technology, specifically communication technology, has changed the way we think, the way we feel, and most importantly, the way we speak and act toward others.”

Brooke Walker: Painting Meets Sculpture

Based in Adelaide? You can now catch SA artist Brooke Walker’s work in our Goodwood gallery!

Wildlife conservation takes the forefront of Brooke Walker’s work. Previous series have explored the relationship between animals and humans, as well as manmade objects and their new, unnatural place in various environments. In this year’s submissions, Brook has expanded her field even further by bringing her incredible painting techniques to a 3D form. Both back and front views of this Clownfish have been painted in reverse on 4mm super clear glass. “They are then fitted together, painted sides in, creating a painting sculpture which suspends the Clownfish in space,” Brooke adds.

“Reverse glass painting is a new technique I’ve been perfecting,” Brooke says on her Clownfish piece.

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

Angel Riley: Committed to Culture and Connection

Angel Riley is a Wiradjuri artist who grew up in Sydney’s west. Much like her aunt, Karen Lee Mungarrja, Angel has fast evolved into a popular presence on Bluethumb, combining story with a unique aesthetic. While much of her works are paintings, Angel is also a photographer and submitted her piece Colours of Australia as one of her entries to the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021.

Aboriginal woman in the Australian outback, as photographed by Angel Riley.

“Dancing bare feet in the sand of my forefathers, while paying homage to my ancestors and the colours of my land.” Colours of Australia by Angel Riley.

“There’s something very special about painting cultural art” Angel Riley elaborates on her artwork. “It connects you to the country and to your ancestors in a way that gives you more respect and curiosity for the history of our land. It is the way our people have passed on information for thousands of years, it preserves our culture.”

The Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 awards ceremony will be broadcasted online on the 18th November. More details coming soon. Best of luck to all our finalists!

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  1. Janette DADD says:

    I vote for Angel Riley Colours of Australia. the piece has great movement and the contract between the orange/red sand and the vivid blue sky becomes a perfect backdrop for the dancer in the center of the photo. A good composition.

  2. Bob Smith says:

    Congratulations to my daughter to be finalist of the bluethumb price.

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