44th Muswellbrook Art Prize receives generous windfall from Bengalla

PRESTIGIOUS: Nick Ferguson with his winning work, Swimming (Bruce Spence), at the 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize.
PRESTIGIOUS: Nick Ferguson with his winning work, Swimming (Bruce Spence), at the 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize.

THE generosity of the Bengalla Mining Company Pty Limited will see the award money for the 44th Muswellbrook Art Prize increase to $70,000 in 2017.

The Muswellbrook Art Prize, which began in 1958 as part of the Muswellbrook Spring Festival of the Valley, will offer artists from across Australia the opportunity to vie for three awards in the mediums of painting ($50,000), work on paper ($10,000) and ceramics ($10,000).

All three prizes are acquisitive with the winning works permanently entering the Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection alongside important works of such esteemed Australian artists such as Peter Atkins, Suzanne Archer, Annette Bezor, Marion Borgelt, Judy Cassab, Fred Cress, Greg Daly, Dale Frank, James Gleeson, Guy Grey-Smith, Pro Hart, Robert Klippel, Gudrun Klix, Richard Larter, Janet Laurence, Margot Lewers, Elwyn Lynn, Reg Mombassa, Chester Nealie, Desiderius Orban, Mike Parr, Pam Sinnott, Peter Solness, David Strachan, Max Watters, Brett Whiteley, and Fred Williams.

Last year, the 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize was won by Nick Ferguson (painting), John Bokor (work on paper) and Jane McKenzie (ceramic). 

The increase in prizemoney by $10,000 for 2017 now puts Muswellbrook as the second richest art prize in regional Australia, second only to the Cossack Art Awards in the Kimberly’s in Western Australia.

“Muswellbrook Shire Council is proud to match the increase in sponsorship by the Bengalla Mining Company Pty Limited, one of the major coal mines in the region, and with this increase in sponsorship the painting section of the prize becomes the richest being offered to artists in regional Australia and, in fact, regional Australasia,” mayor Martin Rush said.

“Of course, it is not about trying to award the biggest art prize in Australia but about attracting and acquiring for the Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection the best artworks being created in Australia today.

“The Muswellbrook collections, which include the extraordinary gift of the Max Watters Collection, are an invaluable resource for the Upper Hunter, for schools, for artists, for the art loving public in general and for the future.

“This collection, which stretches from the mid-twentieth century to the present, includes the best in contemporary art.

“The increase in sponsorship will enable the prize to continue to build the collection with the best possible artworks, while providing the winning artists with the prestige and money to further their careers, as has been a major outcome of the Muswellbrook Art Prize since its inception in 1958.”

The 44th Muswellbrook Art Prize will take place at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre in March 2017 with the opening night and announcement of the winners taking place in the evening of Saturday, March 11.

Entry forms and details will be available soon from the arts centre or on line at www.muswellbrookartscentre.com.au