Footscray Art Prize is back after successful inaugural year

The esteemed Footscray Art Prize is now open for entries, giving artists from across Australia the opportunity to showcase their art in the thriving creative hub of Footscray in Melbourne’s inner west, and share in $17,500 worth of prizes. 

Victoria University has had a strong connection with Footscray for more than a century. Today, we work with our local community to contribute to Footscray’s vibrant and growing arts, cultural and creative industries as part of Footscray University Town. A key initiative is the biennial Footscray Art Prize, proudly sponsored by VU. The inaugural Footscray Art Prize celebrated the richness of Footscray on a national platform. I was particularly pleased with the interest in the Tertiary and Young Artists Prizes, which resulted in an incredibly diverse exhibition that showcased the next generation of Australian artists. The 2019 Prize promises to be even more exciting and I look forward to working with our partners to continue its development into one of Australia’s most sought after Art Prizes. 

Peter Dawkins AO, Vice-Chancellor Victoria University

After receiving over 800 entries for the inaugural prize in 2017, the 2019 Footscray Art Prize is expected to attract a large number of high calibre submissions across its four categories. 

The main prize is valued $10,000, while the Street Art Prize is valued at $5,000 and pays tribute to the inner west’s thriving street art scene and gives the winning artist the opportunity to bring their work to life on a prominent wall in Footscray. 

Footscray is a thriving creative hub, and is developing an enviable reputation as a centre of arts and culture. This was reflected in the large number of entries we received for the inaugural Footscray Art Prize in 2017. The Art Prize is another opportunity to celebrate the artistic vibrancy and creativity of Footscray. We are looking forward to hosting the work of talented artists from across Australia here in Footscray once again! 

Cr Martin Zakharov, Mayor of the City of Maribyrnong

On top of this, the next generation of Australian artists will have a chance to showcase their work with the Tertiary Art Prize, valued at $1,500, which is open to Australians studying at a tertiary education institution; and the Young Artists Prize, featuring two categories each valued at $500, will encourage primary and secondary students in Melbourne’s west to explore their creativity. 

The Footscray Art Prize is this wonderfully curated visual sensation of experiences, ideas, memories and moments expressed by artists from all over the country, set within this historic, curious and adventurous town. 

Martin Paten, Director and CEO at Footscray Community Arts Centre 

The 2019 Footscray Art Prize will be judged by a panel of experts, including: 

  • Katrina Sedgwick, Director and CEO – Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) 

  • Hanna Presley, Curator – Australian Centre of Contemporary Art (ACCA) 

  • Raafat Ishak, Artist and Head of Painting – Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) 

  • Simon Spain, Founding Director – Art Play (Young Artists category) 

Entries close on 15 March 2019 and are open to all Australian residents, with no restrictions on visual art media. Winners will be announced in June, with a shortlist available in late April. 

Shortlisted works will be on display at a Footscray Art Prize exhibition, which will be held at Footscray Community Arts Centre (Main and Street Art Prizes), and VU at MetroWest (Tertiary and Young Artists Prize). 

Footscray Rotary is excited to be involved in the Footscray Art Prize. This biennial prize shares with all of Australia that Footscray has a wonderful multicultural community that is creative, and innovative as well as being a great place to live and study. The Young Artists and Tertiary sections in particular, are an inspiring addition to the opportunities available to the young people who live and attend the schools and universities in the western suburbs. Footscray Rotary has contributed to the Footscray community for over 80 years and is honoured to again be a partner and sponsor in the Footscray Art Prize. 

Suzanne Zammit, President of Footscray Rotary

The biennial prize is a unique collaboration between Victoria University, Maribyrnong City Council, Footscray Community Arts Centre and the Rotary Club of Footscray, who share a commitment to demonstrating and promoting creativity, cultural achievements and the arts. 

Entries are now open and can be submitted online. 

For more information, visit www.footscrayartprize.com/categories

New panel of esteemed judges join Footscray Art Prize

In June 2019 we will be staging the second iteration of the Footscray Art Prize. The inaugural Footscray Art Prize, held in 2017, was a raging success, with over 800 entrants being whittled down to five incredible first-up winners. These winning artists – Mumu Mike Williams, Heesco, Mohsen Meysami, Jaina Zheng and Cathy Tran – were exhibited along with other shortlisted artists at VU at Metrowest, Footscray Community Arts Centre and, in Heesco’s case, Victoria University’s Nicholson Campus. They also shared $17,500 prize money.

Headshot - Hannah Presley.jpeg

We’re nearing the opening date for entries to the 2019 Prize – Friday the 23rd of November – and the time has come to announce our new team of esteemed judges.

Hannah Presley, an Aboriginal curator based in Melbourne, is the inaugural curator for the Yalingwa program at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Presley was also the First Nations Curatorial Assistant for Tracey Moffatt’s My Horizon exhibition at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and has undertaken various curatorial projects at the ACCA and West Space.

Headshot - Raafat Ishak.jpg

Born in Cairo, Raafat Ishak has lived and practised in Melbourne for over three decades. His works across painting, installation and site-specific drawing are often informed by architecture and his Arabic heritage. Ishak has exhibited at art spaces in Australia such as Sutton Gallery, the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, as well as overseas at the Barjeel Art Foundation (UAE/Paris) and the Institute du Monde Arabe (Paris). 

Headshot - Katrina Sedgwick.jpg

Katrina Sedgwick has been the Director and CEO of ACMI since 2015, prior to which she was the Head of Arts for ABC TV and ABC Arts Online, as well as the founding Director and CEO of the Adelaide Film Festival. Her extensive career in arts administration also includes co-founding the Sydney Fringe Festival in 1995 and Special Events Producer for the Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Headshot - Simon Spain.jpg

Returning to once again judge the Young Artists category is Simon Spain. Spain is the Founding Director of ArtPlay and Signal, has provided international research to Tate and Playeum and was a member of the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board. In May 2018, Spain was appointed as the chairperson of the Regional Arts Australia Board of Directors, on which he has sat since 2017. Spain chose a painting and sculpture as the winners of the 2017 Young Artists category, reflecting his diverse artistic knowledge and tastes.

The 2019 Footscray Art Prize affords artists the opportunity to be a part of this growing cultural sensation, to have their work exhibited and considered by our venerated judges, and to share in a prize pool of $17,500. Entries are open to Australian-based artists of all levels, across the following categories; Footscray Art Prize (Main) ($10,000); Street Art Prize ($5,000); Tertiary Prize ($1,500, Open to Australian University and Art College students enrolled at the time of entering the Prize); Young Artist Prize ($500 for Primary and Secondary respectively, Open to primary and secondary school students in Melbourne’s west). 

Entries open on Friday the 23rd of November, so we urge you to start preparing your entries as soon as possible!

Mumu Mike Williams wins the inaugural Footscray Art Prize

Pitjantjatjara artist Mumu Mike Williams has claimed the top prize in the inaugural Footscray Art Prize for his painting on Australia Post canvas mailbags.

His winning work, Postbag Painting, was chosen from more than 800 entries from across Australia and awarded a $10,000 cash prize.

Williams said he chose to use mailbags - which are Commonwealth Government property - as his painting surface in a bold statement about ownership and the conflict between Commonwealth law and Anangu lore.

Williams grew up around Pukatja, South Australia. He is a traditional Ngangkari healer and currently lives in the Northern Territory.

“I live in a very remote part of Australia where mail is delivered by plane twice a week. The bags are used for everything in my community, but after I started painting on them, the deeper meanings became more and more apparent,” he said.

His decision to repurpose canvas postbags as artwork occurred as a “happy accident” after he first used the bags to trace a map printed on them. Postbag Painting uses acrylic paint, as well as kulata (traditionally-made spear), Punu (wood), malu pulyku (kangaroo tendon), and kiti (resin from spinifex grass).

The Footscray Art Prize, a unique collaboration between Victoria University, Maribyrnong City Council, Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC), and the Rotary Club of Footscray, offered a total of $17,500 in cash and voucher prizes.

Judge Jason Smith, Director of Geelong Gallery, said picking a winner was tough among the “stunning quality” of entries. Thirty-two works were shortlisted from entries spanning photography, video, paintings, sculpture and street art.

“Prizes are wonderful because we get to see an incredible cross-section of contemporary art, but the horrible reality is there is only one recipient – no winner – just a recipient,” Smith said.

Nonetheless, Williams’ work was a stand-out to which the five judges kept returning, he said.

“Its particular form of poetry and politics, the way in which this artist manipulated the material to give us visual pleasure, to be extraordinarily thought-provoking, to remind us … we must love the place in which we live,” Smith said.

VU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said the Footscray Art Prize is an important contribution in building a vibrant and creative Footscray University Town.

Finalists announced for inaugural Footscray Art Prize

More than 140 works have been shortlisted from 800 entries representing artists from across Australia for the inaugural Footscray Art Prize.

The Prize is a unique collaboration of Victoria University, Maribyrnong City Council, Footscray Community Arts Centre, and the Rotary Club of Footscray.

In addition to a $10,000 main prize, the contest will award a $500 street art prize, a $1,500 tertiary art prize, and two $500 young artist’s prize, for total prize money of $17,500.

Winners will be announced Thursday 25 May.

Finalists' works will be exhibited at:

The judging panel conducted blind selections to shortlist finalists, whose works span photography, video, paintings, sculpture and street art.

Judges for the Footscray Art Prize comprised:

  • Geelong Gallery director Jason Smith

  • Artist Reko Rennie

  • Moonee Ponds Incinerator Gallery curator Richard Ennis

  • Creative producer Simon Spain.

Judge Jason Smith said the panel was inspired by the range of submissions.

“The sheer volume, diversity and exceptional merit of artists’ submissions made the shortlisting process a challenging one.  We were really struck by the artists’ images of, and connections to, community and their locality,” he said.