The Newcastle Club Foundation Prize, 2021


On 26 May 2021, The Newcastle Club Foundation and Easel Art Space formally agreed to the gallery’s administering the Acquisitive Art Prize to be awarded later in the year. Invitations to submit works were published widely, centring on the websites and informative social media of both the Newcastle Club Foundation (https://www.newcastleclub.com.au) and Easel Art Space (https://www.easel-art-space.com).


Tracking to the time of writing the measurable interest in the Prize and its invitations to participate, the gallery is advised that through the social media and Easel Art Space website information and promotion Posts approach, there have been 66,352 persons reached, 7917 ‘Engagements’, 3104 visitors to the main Newcastle Club Foundation Art Prize element of the web page, and 523 ‘Downloads’ of the Prize documentation. These numbers do not include those generated by the Newcastle Club Foundation Acquisitive Art Prize section of the Club web-site (above).


Artist inquiries and contacts from May to October 2021 were positive. Notified ‘topic’ Obeliskia proved attractive, in some instances an inspiring focal point. It underpinned submissions, both actually and philosophically; symbolism and literalism were apparent across the submissions.


In mid-October, artists delivered their finished works, Covid-19 ‘safe’, at Platform One on The Station Newcastle. Over some six days the Prize Exhibition was gathered in, then curated. Three Judges – Ron Ramsey, Catherine Dunlop and Angus Nivison – gathered. Such was the quality of the works, the Judges successfully recommended to the Club Foundation that Finalists be increased from the usual ten to fourteen with the Emerging Artist prize being the fifteenth.


Over those October ‘delivery’ days there was among many of the exhibiting artists a notable bubbly excitement. For staff at the gallery ‘checking them in’ the banter, justifiable pride, artists’ obvious pleasure in having ‘made’, ‘completed’ art even during the pandemic and its darkness were exhilarating. On the evidence of the works to be hung, resolute motivation to create ‘come what may’ had to have been an active characteristic of each artist.


For the curator the following days were enjoyable, centred on those moments of first seeing each work ‘on the wall’, culminating in the vitality of the total exhibition. Five months of preparation had brought 52 finished works to notice. The first public preview was over weekend 13/14 November.


By the end of the first week of November, Finalists and all Exhibitors were notified of outcomes.

On a wider scale, subsequent responses have helped better to understand the cascade of value within the Club Foundation Art Prize. Fifty-two individual artists’ works were accepted, suggesting that the Prize had encouraged them in their artistry even during the pandemic. Furthermore the ‘idea’ of the Obelisk, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley was enhanced by the aggregation of artistic insights brought to notice. Some financial support for the arts, through the Prize and potential sales of works, could well be helpful. And of course in a time of social turmoil, subsequent visitors to the gallery gratefully stepped into a peaceful, uplifting and enthusing world of ideas, colour, concepts, messages, characterisation, skill, finish, beauty.


During the preview weekends, visitors including Members of the initiating Newcastle Club commented on the communicative quality of the works. Many people were drawn in, lingered in the gallery. One attentive man in particular noted that ‘the Covid effect, the social confinement, silent time can be seen in the works’. A woman explained that she was ‘transfixed’ by a particular work, in that instance a Finalist. They were two of many. To be in the gallery during those preview weekends made apparent that the wide range of interpretation through The Obelisk – a view of Newcastle had become not just a conversation point, but also one of the revealed ‘values’ of the Prize. The Prize exists owing to philanthropic and charitable motivation, part of a fine tradition. The Prize also encourages an enhanced vision of its ‘home city’. In the greatest of all traditions though the Prize and its Exhibition show attractively one particular way in which the arts now and always arrive in front of us to explain, to clarify the world.


Hosted by the Newcastle Club Foundation, on Friday 3 December 2021 the Opening of the Exhibition and awarding of Prizes will be held at Easel Art Space, 110 Scott Street Newcastle from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Please RSVP to Gail at gail.miller64@gmail.com. Covid safe, NSW State mandated regulations will apply.

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