A Year in Review: Bluethumb Highlights of 2021

Who else felt like 2021 was the sequel to 2020 nobody asked for? More cancellations, more postponed events – not to mention some of the longest lockdowns in the world (Melbourne, we see you!) And yet, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom; we’ve all found silver linings to these interesting times.

Many of us take the last few days of the year to reflect on what the past twelve months had in store, and the Bluethumb team is no exception. Across the board, Bluethumb had its most successful year to date. In the final week of 2021, we’re looking back over the past 12 months and the highlights that broke up the clouds, broke records and broke traditions. And, of course, we’re raising a glass to every person who made them possible!

The Melbourne team may have discussed their highlights with wine in hand overlooking the Yarra Valley…

We Hosted Ellen McKenna’s Feeling Colours Exhibition

Ellen McKenna putting together one of the rooms for her exhibition.

March 2021 saw Melbourne Design Week hit our city hard. Spanning over 11 days, there were over 300 exhibitions, talks, films, workshops and tours both across Victoria and online, all of which will explore this year’s theme ‘Design the world you want’. Ellen McKenna explored the theme with her Feeling Colours exhibition at our Melbourne Gallery as part of the NGV’s 2021 program for Melbourne Design Week.

Molly Moores Took Over Our Adelaide Gallery

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

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

Earlier on this year SA-based artist Ross Morgan teamed up with author Kaliah Tsakalidis to produced their highly-rated book, Molly Moores Has A House Like Yours. Our Goodwood gallery was lucky enough to house Ross’s fantastical full-page illustrations in a showcase of the book, as well as a reading by the pair. If you missed the exhibition, you can catch up on our blog here.

Despite Lockdowns, Our Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Winners Exhibition was A Hit

Check out the blog to get a feel for the Winners exhibition held earlier this year.

The Bluethumb team loves getting to stretch out the fun of the art prize with the Winners exhibition in the following year! Granted, while this one was our biggest to date, the lockdowns in Sydney meant most of us had to keep it virtual. Seeing work by our award-winning artists hanging in such a primo location was still a highlight of this past year for us!

We Celebrated NAIDOC Week With Twin Exhibitions

Our exhibition for NAIDOC Week 2021

The Melbourne gallery looking swish and in spirit of NAIDOC Week back in July this year.

With each year we see more public attention turn to NAIDOC Week – a chance to celebrate and remember the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In keeping with the event and to honour the many talented Aboriginal artists on Bluethumb, we put together two exhibitions of their work at our Melbourne and Adelaide galleries.

NAIDOC Week in the Bluethumb Adelaide gallery

Adelaide added some of the fantastic weavings from beloved Tjanpi Desert Weavers to their front display.

With collectors viewing the work in the galleries and online, these all-round stunning artworks didn’t stick around for long. Check out our Aboriginal art category for further inspiration and fresh work from independent Indigenous artists and art centres alike! Otherwise, you can see more of who and what was involved in the twin exhibitions on the blog here.

$10,000 was Raised for UNICEF by Our Ken Done Charity Auction

Ken Done generously donated an artwork especially for the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners Exhibition to raise money for UNICEF.

COVID, the gift that kept on giving, meant looking at alternative ways to hold our charity auction closing event for our Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition at 1 Denison. The good news is we still auctioned Grey Sea and Showboat, 1998, the classic, collectable Ken Done piece featured in the exhibition, via a silent auction! The last-minute winning bid came in at $10,000, all proceeds of which went directly to UNICEF Australia.

Bluethumb Hit the News with The Podium

Bluethumb Co-Founder Edward Hartley spoke to The Advertiser in September on our upcoming re-sale platform.

In September this year, we surveyed our artists and found 98.5% had never received a resale royalty under the Copyright Agency’s current scheme. The Podium, our secondary art marketplace that gives everyone a better deal, is soon to hit the Australian art scene and has undoubtedly made some noise since the news of its imminent arrival. So much so, it was featured in headlines across the country!

Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 was Our Biggest and Best Yet

The seeds for 2021’s Bluethumb Art Prize were first planted during celebratory drinks after the 2020 awards ceremony, back in November last year. Months of solid behind-the-scenes action went into this year’s seamless Bluethumb Art Prize winners ceremony, which was held virtually for a second time. It was the perfect way to announce the winners and runners up of the prize, which showcased the nation’s variety of talent and skill within the Australian art scene like never before. A record amount of entries, an artist-led judging panel and our largest number of cash prizes to be won set us up strong and we were blown away by the standard of work entered into the prize.

Loribelle with one of her most currently celebrated pieces, Homme 280

Following in the footsteps of Hubert Pareroultja, Loribelle Spirovski won this year’s $20,000 Bluethumb Art Prize, scoring her second major prize this year after taking home the Naked & Nude Art Prize in August. Click here to check out the full list of winners and runners up, as well as a heartfelt reaction to Tom Christophersen’s impressive win of the People’s Choice Award here.

… And That’s a Wrap!

None of this would have been possible without our amazing community of artists, our buyers and collectors, Australia’s Indigenous art centres and all the individuals working tirelessly within the team. We express our sincerest thanks to each of you for your support over this past year; here’s to the many more to come!

We’re raising a glass to everyone who has been part of our journey this year. Cheers!

Artist Jen Shewring at Bluethumb, the Home of Australian Artists
Jen Shewring: Finding and Spreading Joy

One Comment

  1. absolutely gorgeous, young good looking and wonderful, full of fun enjoy your life so hate being old and ill no life now to have fun . Love Gini. at least I can still paint XXXX

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