Blue Mountains News

Dobell Portrait Prize #23 opens at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

By Blue Mountains City Council
Posted: 2 Jun 2024
Artist Luke Thurgate installing his work.
Australia’s premier drawing prize is currently on exhibition at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.

The Dobell Drawing Prize #23 is an unparalleled celebration of technique, innovation and expanded drawing practices. This National Art School touring exhibition showcases 45 of the 64 finalists from the 2023 Prize and includes Jane Grealey’s winning work,Maria’s Garden, Scheme C.

Presenting a range of material approaches – from video to ash, charcoal, ink and watercolour – the exhibition demonstrates the remarkable vitality and scope of contemporary Australian drawing.

William Dobell’s love of drawing was recognised in 1993 when the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation (SWDAF) initiated a drawing prize in his name at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. For twenty years, the annual Dobell Prize for Drawing encouraged excellence in drawing and draughtsmanship among Australian artists. Past winners include Kevin Connor, David Fairbairn, Virginia Grayson, Nicholas Harding, Ann Pollak, Gareth Sansom, Jan Senbergs, Garry Shead and Aida Tomescu.

Blue Mountains Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill said, "It is an honour for Blue Mountains City Council to host the touring exhibition of the Dobell Drawing Prize #23 here at the Cultural Centre, one of the most prestigious and popular art exhibitions in Australia. I thank the National Art School and the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation for entrusting us with these marvellous artworks that represent the pinnacle of drawing within contemporary Australian art practice."

Blue Mountains artist Clare Delaney is a finalist in the exhibition and her work,Tangle I, is on display as a part of the tour. 

“My love for exploring and making different marks on paper was my inspiration for creatingTangle I. This drawing was one of three sphere drawings I was working on at the time. Similar yet different in the marks I experimented with charcoal and erasers to build three spheres,” she said.

“Becoming a Dobell finalist took my breath away when I received the email to say I had been accepted.  I had enteredTangle I in two other prizes that year and been declined. So, when the Dobell came up, I thought ‘what do I have to lose, apart from my entry fee!’ Entering art prizes is such a fickle business as more often than not you get many more knock backs than ‘yes you are in’.”

Luke Thurgate self-admittedly took a risk and entered a wall drawing into the prize. He has been travelling with the tour to install his work directly onto the walls of each venue that the exhibition visits.

“This wall drawing is part noun and part verb. This iteration at the Cultural Centre will be the fourth time I’ve made it. The work references an iconic painting by Peter Paul Rubens, the figures overlayed with garbage bag masks which allude to the monsters we construct to scare and excite us. I’ve been jokingly referring to it as my zombie work - something that keeps dying and being brought back to life.

“Here in Katoomba, it will be made live in front of gallery audiences, allowing me to connect with visitors throughout the drawing process.”

For those looking for creative development, Thurgate will deliver a Charcoal Drawing Masterclass on Sunday 21 July. This class is suitable for adult students of all abilities. For details, visit here

The Dobell Drawing Prize #23 exhibition will be on view at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre from 25 May – 28 July.

 
National Trust Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum National Trust Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum National Trust Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum National Trust Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum

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