FINALIST: Janet Matthews' She says, 2018.
FINALIST: Janet Matthews' She says, 2018.

Who made the cut in our $40,000 art prize and why

ALMOST 500 entries were submitted to the Clarence Valley's premium art prize - the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award - in what is a milestone year for the biennial title.

With $40,000 worth of prizemoney and acquisitions up for grabs, it's no surprise to hear this year's submissions featured entries from across the country to contest the prize that clocks up 30 years of competition this Jacaranda.

The high calibre of entries made the task of whittling down to a gallery-friendly 55 artworks tough going, the panel led by the gallery new director Niomi Sands working hard to come up with a diverse, contemporary reflection of drawing in Australia today.

UNPACKING: Grafton Regional Gallery director Niomi Sands unwraps one of the early arrival JADA finalists, Sydney artist Alex Riske's entry Synergy.
UNPACKING: Grafton Regional Gallery director Niomi Sands unwraps one of the early arrival JADA finalists, Sydney artist Alex Riske's entry Synergy. Lesley Apps

Ms Sands said despite the challenge, it was a really exciting process to go through.

"The quality of works was very high so it was hard to narrow them down to just 55 but we have to work with the space we have here.”

She said the process "certainly sparked some lively discussions” among the panel.

"We did a blind cull first where quick unanimous decisions were made and then went over the remaining works. We ended up with a significant number of leading contemporary artists represented by commercial galleries and finalists from other big prizes like the Archibald.”

FINALIST: E Dunne's Afternoons in Nana's Back Yard, 2018.
FINALIST: E Dunne's Afternoons in Nana's Back Yard, 2018.

Ms Sands said there was also a talented local contingent chosen as finalists, including Pat Jenkins and Julie Hutchings.

"Both of them said this JADA was going to be the last one they were going to enter so they are pretty happy to have made the cut this time.”

Ms Sands said people can expect to see a lot of diversity in the finalists with everything from performance drawing and animation to works that explore light, along with the traditional methods of graphite pencil and charcoal.

FINALIST: Elissa Sampson's Forever Young, 2018.
FINALIST: Elissa Sampson's Forever Young, 2018.

"There is something for everyone really, from realistic to quirky. We even have ceramics which have been drawn on. The subjects of works touch on all themes.”

She said the final judging of the 2018 prize will be done in October by Anne Ryan, curator of drawing from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

"We haven't made it easy for her. I think she will have a tough time choosing a winner and the acquisitions.”

  • The gala opening and announcement of the winner of the $30,000 first prize plus $10,000 in acquisitions will take place on Friday, October 26, from 5.30pm at the Grafton Regional Gallery. Tickets from the gallery.

Full list of JADA 2018 finalists

  • Andrew ANTONIOU
  • Maree AZZOPARDI
  • Lewis BRENNAN
  • Anthony CAHILL
  • Simon CLARK
  • Ray COFFEY
  • Michael CUSACK
  • Adam CUSACK
  • Erin DUNNE
  • Esther ERLICH
  • David FAIRBAIRN
  • Todd FULLER
  • Kendal GEAR
  • Anna GLYNN
  • Erika GOFTON
  • Betty GREENHATCH
  • Geoff HARVEY
  • Nicci HAYNES
  • Julie HUTCHINGS
  • Eamonn JACKSON
  • Pat JENKINS
  • Elliott KUHLMANN
  • Hyun - Hee LEE
  • Michael LINDEMAN
  • Jennifer LOVEROCK
  • Georgie LUCOCK
  • Noel McKENNA
  • Sandra McMAHON
  • Janet MATTHEWS
  • Jennifer MILLS
  • Peta MINNICI
  • Nikky MORGAN-SMITH
  • Julie NASH
  • Kellie O'DEMPSEY
  • Zhana OLIVIA
  • Nick PONT
  • Claire PRIMROSE
  • Peter RA
  • Mollie RICE
  • Michael RILEY
  • Alexander RISKE
  • Cass SAMMS
  • Elissa SAMPSON
  • Kaye SHUMACK
  • Sally SIMPSON
  • Tim SPELLMAN
  • Bronte STOLZ
  • Vicki SULLIVAN
  • Robyn SWEANEY
  • Mark THOMPSON
  • Bronwyn VAN DE GRAAFF
  • Craig WADDELL
  • Greg WARBURTON
  • Oksana WATERFALL
  • J.P. WILLIS

Celebrating 30 years

Brief history of the JADA

The JADA is the flagship of the Grafton Regional Gallery and one of the Australia's premier art prizes.

The nationally-recognised award now sits at $40,000, attracting some of the country's most established and celebrated artists every two years.

It has ensured the gallery has been able to cultivate one of the most enviable drawing collections in the country.

WINNER 2002: Michael Zavros' Plot, 2002.
WINNER 2002: Michael Zavros' Plot, 2002.

The award was conceived in 1988 by gallery's inaugural director Julian Faigen with the backing of the Jacaranda Art Society (JAS). The Jacaranda Art Exhibition Prize would be a specialised acquisitive Australian Drawing Prize. Previously, the JAS award was an open prize across various mediums but galleries were making the move into specialist collections.

The award's name changed to the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award in 1994, the structure of which remains the same today - a biennial award with entries selected by a panelfor exhibition to ultimately be judged by a noted figure from the art world. The judge selects the acquisitive first prize and further acquisitions for the collection.

The Friends of the Gallery (FOGG) became the sole sponsors in 1998, offering a $5000 first prize and further $5000 for acquisitions. It has grown since then to the very attractive sum you see today. FOGG are still the major sponsor.

After each JADA, it tours for the next two years, visiting regional galleries across NSW and Queensland.

It remains Australia's richest regional drawing award.



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