Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Winners Announced!

The wait is over. It’s been an incredible few months leading up to tonight’s unveiling of all the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 winners in our Instagram Live awards ceremony. Congratulations Hubert Pareroultja for winning the overall $10,000 Bluethumb Art Prize! This is Hubert’s second major prize of 2020 after taking home the Wynne Prize in September.

Bluethumb Art Prize Winner: Hubert Pareroultja

Mt Giles, MacDonnell Ranges – Circular Landscape by Hubert Pareroultja of Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre is this year’s grand prize winner and takes home the Landscape award.

When asked how he feels about winning the grand prize, as well as the Landscape Award, Hubert replied, “Oh, I was pretty happy about that. Thank you very much.” His winning circular painting departs from his usual style. “Circular painting is a bit tricky,” explains Pareroultja. “You’ve just got to use your head. Think properly you know.”

The subject of Pareroultja’s winning landscape is a sacred place to him. “Mt Giles is my Father’s country. It’s a couple of hours west of Mparntwe; Mparntwe means Alice Springs in the Aboriginal language.”

Hubert Pareroultja with Mervyn and Marlene Rubuntja at this year’s Desert Mob. Photo by Rhett Hammerton.

“I feel his appreciation and comprehension of his own Motherland is something that any other artists can’t emulate,” 2018 Bluethumb Art Prize winner and this year’s judge Kim Hyunji commented on the piece. “The mystic and subtle colour palette and the circle framing beautifully capture the ethereal spirit of the landscape.”

Hubert Pareroultja is a senior Western Arrarnta-Luritja man who lives at Kulpitharra / Lundara outstation west of Hermannsburg (Ntaria). He has been painting watercolours on his homeland since he was a young boy thus following in the footsteps of his father Reuben Pareroultja and Uncles Otto and Edwin Pareroultja – all acclaimed artists. When Hubert was a kid, he watched the original Hermannsburg School watercolour artist Albert Namatjira and his family as they painted.

Hubert paints many of the same locations that Namatjira and the Pareroultja brothers painted, in particular Hermannsburg, Mt Sonder and James Range. Hubert lives and works in the Western MacDonnell Ranges to this day. 

View more of Hubert’s work on his Bluethumb profile.

Bluethumb Art Prize Runner-Up: Dianne Golding

This year’s Runner-Up winner and Indigenous award winner, Young Mother with Sick Baby by Dianne Golding

This year the artist-led judging panel awarded the honour of runner-up to Indigenous artist Dianne Golding for her sculpture Young Mother with Sick Baby. “I’m infatuated with the [Tjanpi Desert] Weavers,” Indigenous artist and judge Blak Douglas expressed. “These creations are so abstractly accurate that they defy abstraction and should be made compulsory as Christmas gifts to all Australian households.”

Dianne Ungukalpi Golding is an artist belonging to the Ngaanyatjarra language and cultural group in Western Australia. She has made baskets for a number of years and first learnt from relatives in Warakurna. “I see a great potential in her works to capture and to give a voice to her community,” Kim Hyunji said. “There is something special in the way she depicts the emotions of the subjects.”

View more of Dianne’s work on her Bluethumb profile.

Bluethumb Art Prize Category Winners

Dani holding the landscape award for Hubert Pareroultja in the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020

Dani from Eckersley’s was on hand to present the landscape award. All the category awards were sponsored by Eckersley’s.

Photography Award: Smaller Like Man by Ed Fetahovic

This year’s Photography category award winning piece, Smaller Like Man by Ed Fetahovic.

Ed Fetahovic hails from WA and has a knack of finding mundane, everyday characters and placing them within these scenes to explore how everyday life can be beautiful and fleeting at the same time. Inspired by painter Jeffrey Smart’s nature of shapes and voyage of the mundane, Smaller Like Man is an exploration of this idea and is the winning photograph of its category.

On hearing that his work had been awarded the Photography category, Perth-based artist Ed Fetahovic said he was “overwhelmed” by the news.

“Joining Bluethumb has been an incredible journey so far,” Ed says further on his win. “As I build my confidence in my artwork I feel like I’ll be able to grow a community of people who want to support my success. Being selected as the category photography winner amongst such a huge pool of talented people is not at all lost on me and I want to acknowledge all of the beautiful inspiring art I’m constantly scrolling through on Bluethumb. Thank you all!”

View more of Ed’s work on his Bluethumb profile.

Still Life Award: Arrangement 24 by Jane Reynolds

Jane Reynolds’s winning piece, Arrangement 24.

Through her process, Jane Reynolds undertakes an in-depth, often meditative study of her still life subject. She is drawn to everyday objects and materials that may be glanced over in their usual setting. Jane’s usual subject matter includes discarded and unwanted items; by capturing collected subjects in a new space, she gives them new value and a stage to continue living on.

On hearing the news on winning the award, Jane responded: “I am over the moon to win the Still Life Award, what a wonderful honour! Thank you so much to Bluethumb, the Judging Panel and Eckersley’s. I was so excited to take part in this year’s prize – Still Life inspires me day-in and day-out and Bluethumb has played such a big part in allowing me to share my work with the world.”

View more of Jane’s work on her Bluethumb profile.

Abstract Award: Family Day Out by Kelilah Taylor-Ware

The winning entry of the Abstract award, Family Day Out by Kelilah Taylor-Ware

Growing up in Ceduna, Kelilah Taylor-Ware employs the influence of the great-grandmother Millie Taylor and mother Kelly Taylor within all of her incredible portfolio. Her artistic journey started from watching her mother and sister painting. It was in this time Kelilah learnt how to create a painting using different techniques and stories. In turn, she now tells the stories of her family’s journey across country through her own style of work.

Kelilah’s winning entry, 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 family.

“The ‘U’ symbol [in the artwork] represents my family sitting around campsite,” Kelilah explains. “The footprints show us coming together, the bush foods are spread out in the centre, large circles represent waterholes, small circles represent rock holes.”

“I would like to thank Bluethumb for the opportunity to enter this year’s prize,” Kelilah responded to her win. “A big thank you to my Mum who has taught me and my sisters about painting. Congratulations to all award winners as well!”

View more of Kelilah’s work on her Bluethumb profile.

Portrait Award: Phoebe by Tara Gibbs

Phoebe by Tara Gibbs is this year’s winning Portrait award

The Portrait award winner Phoebe is an exploration into duality; namely the juxtaposition between external beauty and internal unease. “I watched this precarious state of being in my mother who, often clothed in a stunningly picturesque Kimono, would succumb to an uneasy internal dialogue,” Tara describes.

“I was unable to paint my mother, however Phoebe Mordecai’s openness as a model and muse has allowed me to illustrate this concept objectively. It pays homage to Phoebe’s natural beauty however the subjective reality it displays is not her own, but that of another. My mother recently passed away. May she now rest in peace.”

“There is great technical skill in this portrait. Is she looking to the future or remembering the past? Who knows? It’s a fine painting,” Ken Done commented on the piece. 

Fellow Bluethumb judge and renowned photographer Bindi Cole also added: “A technically on-point realist painting that offers a narrative that leaves you asking more questions rather than giving answers.”

the Bluethumb team at the virtual Bluethumb Art Prize 2020

The Melbourne crew with the winning work! L-R: Freddy, Alexandra, Grace, Megan.

On receiving the news of the win, Tara Gibbs: “Firstly, I would like to thank the staff at Bluethumb for preselecting this portrait and to Bluethumb for providing this platform and opportunity for artists to exhibit and promote their amazing creativity. I would also like to thank all the sponsors for making this happen and in particular Eckersley’s, as they provided the art supplies that I needed to start my journey as an artist while I was still in my teens, a trip to Eckersley’s was for me, like the other kids trip to a lolly shop, but so much more rewarding and satisfying.

“Secondly, I would also like to thank the judges for finding worth in this painting and recognising something special in it. I had wanted to create something that was aesthetically beautiful. I honestly felt that if I could create something with such beauty that it held the viewer captive for long enough, it would lead the viewer to want to know who Phoebe is, what she is feeling and thinking. I wanted to create that engagement in a direct way and a way that would carry them into real life and their engagement like that with those around them. In such high tech times, I wanted to create something that would bring back the humanity to our interactions with each other.

“Thank you again to all involved and all the artist who contribute to making such a diverse and eclectic showcase of talent on Bluethumb, it’s very inspiring to be a part of. And, needless to say, the most important thanks to all my close family, friends and acquaintances that have kept me on track with endless encouragement throughout the years, it makes a huge difference and is sincerely appreciated.”

View more of Tara’s work on her Bluethumb profile.

Landscape Award: Mt Giles, MacDonnell Ranges – Circular Landscape by Hubert Pareroultja

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Award: Young Mother with Sick Baby by Dianne Golding

live from the Bluethumb art prize 2020

The Runner Up award was presented to Dianne by Grand Designs Australia

People’s Choice Award: Reflections by Todd Simpson (Announced and Updated 22nd December 2020)

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 People's Choice Award winner Reflections by Todd Simpspn

Reflections by Todd Simpson won the hearts and votes of Bluethumb’s community!

After many weeks of voting, Todd Simpson took home the People’s Choice award with his stunningly realistic 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 traditional painting techniques. “I’ve painted a bokeh effect in the background of this cityscape artwork,” explains Todd. “The term comes from the Japanese word boke which means ‘blur’ or ‘haze’. Appropriately this painting is based on a Tokyo street scene. Although the bokeh effect is primarily a photographic technique I’ve replicated it here to accentuate the distorting and abstracting effect it has on the sources of light.”

Not just limited to capturing the soft beauty of bokeh, Todd’s works capture the world from unusual angles, all of which he completes using an airbrush. Find more of his mesmerising pieces on his Bluethumb profile.

Artists’ Choice Award: Nocturne 2 by Patricia Hillard (Announced and Updated 22nd December 2020)

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 Artists' Choice Award Winner Nocturne 2 by Patricia Hillard

Our artists have spoken! Patricia Hillard takes home the Artists’ Choice award sponsored by Eckersley’s.

A new introduction into this year’s prize, the Artists’ Choice award was handpicked by our Bluethumb’s community of artists. In 2020, they awarded the prize to Patricia Hillard for her floral piece Nocturne 2. The work explores the soft beauty of petals unfolding, with tremendous attention to detail. Patricia describes the story behind the piece: “I like to imagine this is in a lovely garden in beautiful bright moonlight, and this is why I have chosen the name ‘Nocturne’. Once winter is at it’s end, we all look forward to the uplifting beauty of spring flowers.”

View more of Patricia’s work on her Bluethumb profile.

The Finalist Selection Process

It took the Bluethumb selection panel 10 days to select 180 finalists from over 2,500 incredible entries – more than double the number the of entries for this year’s record breaking Archibald Prize and beat the previous record of 2,346 set in 2018.

“The standard is so high it was an almost impossible task, and we couldn’t be prouder of our artist community,” Art prize director, Freddy Grant said regarding the process. “You’re all winners in our eyes!”

19% of the finalists are First Nations artists, a testament to the partnerships Bluethumb has made with over a quarter of Australia’s most remote Aboriginal owned and operated not-for-profit Art Centres and what happens when you remove barriers like entrance fees and artwork delivery.

Bluethumb Art Prize

Bluethumb Art Prize 20 judge Ken Done.

Australia’s much-loved artist and Bluethumb Art Prize judge Ken Done further commented: “I’m really glad I wasn’t the only judge. So many fantastic entries […] it just shows you how many good painters there are around. Sculptors, illustrators… Art’s like half a conversation. You hope that people might what you do and say. In competitions like this, it’s very hard because that are so many entries and it’s so much a matter of opinion. I thought there were some great things in here, and I would certainly always encourage people to keep drawing, keep painting, and keep making bits of sculpture.”

This Year’s Prizes and Exhibition

In a year when art events have on the large been cancelled, postponed and made inaccessible, the team at Bluethumb have worked hard to make the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 the biggest and best yet. With a $10,000 top cash prize and once-in-a-lifetime prize packages up for grabs, supporting Australia’s thriving artist community has been at the forefront of the art prize’s objectives.

In continuation of this year’s shifting restrictions and Bluethumb’s highly successful lockdown virtual events, the Bluethumb Art Prize awards ceremony took place on Instagram Live earlier this evening, on the 26th November, building on Bluethumb’s highly successful lockdown events.

The winner’s exhibition will be held next year at 1 Denison, North Sydney’s newly tallest building. Stay tuned for more details in the new year!

Mask wearing team member in front of podium shotIGTV

Catch up on our virtual awards ceremony now on IGTV!

Vote in the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 People’s Choice Award (Voting Now Closed – 22nd December 2020)

Your Votes Matters! Have your say in the our awards. You can still vote for your five favourite artworks from our 180 finalists. Not only will you help the artists get one vote closer to winning our People’s Choice Award, you’ll also go in the running to win one of your favourite artworks valued up to $2,000! Click here to cast your vote.

Watch the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 awards ceremony below:


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