Artists, residents, and dignitaries all turned out for the annual Camden Art Prize last Friday, at the Civic Centre.
The event is the largest art competition in the region attracting entries from all around the country, and was officially opened by The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir who announced the winning entrants on the night.
Gaylene Feld, president of The Camden Art Prize committee, said this year’s event was one of the biggest ever seen, with hundreds of people attending the opening night.
“It was such a wonderful turnout, it was just remarkable with wall-to-wall people,” she said.
Mrs Feld was also honoured with a lifetime achievement award from Dame Bashir, for her many years of service to The Camden Art Prize.
The art competition is open to anyone, both locally and interstate, and this year’s winner was Julie Simmons, for her oil painting titled ‘Lady in Red’.
The judges commented on the strong confident use of colour and texture, and it had definite wow, they said.
“It’s a self-portrait of the artist, and the judges pointed out that the paint and texture of it has made it look realistic, and given the artwork a 3D effect,” Mrs Feld said.
2017 Camden Art Prize winning entry ‘Lady In Red’ by artist Julie Simmons. Photo: Helen Megalokonomos
“In art, we talk about ‘the gesture’, which is the spirit of the artwork, and it’s that spirit that will draw people to the artwork, it’s what they recognise within themselves,” she said.
Evie Messar, an entrant in this year’s competition, was glad to be part of the event, and said there were many great entries this year. “I entered the photography section. I didn’t do any good really, but I’m happy to be part of it,” she said.
This year’s event had many sections for artists to submit their work to, such as traditional, sculpture, watercolour, and photography.
Camille Gillyboeuf, winner of the Youth Award, two years in a row, claimed the position again with her work titled, ‘Dans L’Atelier’. Her work shows great influence of the old masters, the judges said.
The winning artwork, will be purchased by The Camden Art Prize Committee Inc Acquisitive, to the value of $3,000, and it will be kept and displayed alongside previous winners, at Camden Council.
The Youth Award offers a $750 prize amount, with other categories offering between $1,000-$1, 250, for first place within the category.
When asked about the success of 2017, Mrs Feld said the success of this year’s event, was due to some changes that were made.
“Each year we try to do something a little different. We decided we’d have feature sections for the sculptures and the photography, and by doing that, we’re attracting artists,” she said.
“It’s not just me. I’ve got a wonderful team with the committee members, as well as Margaret Bowring, who was on the inaugural committee, and on the committee for many years after that.”
Mrs Bowring who is now a volunteer, believes that adding the youth award, was a great idea. “It’s very good that The Camden Art Prize has expanded to include young people. The most important thing we can do, is get good sponsors and great judges,” she said.
As there is no government funding, The Camden Art Prize depends on the generosity of sponsors. This year, Macarthur BMW came on board and ensured its success. They say sponsors are still needed for next year’s event.
Volunteers Jan Docherty (left), and inaugural committee member Margaret Bowring. Photo: Helen Megalokonomos
According to The Camden Art Prize website, the aims of the committee is to stage the Camden Art Prize, and to acquire various works of art for Camden council. It also helps to promote the visual arts locally and to broaden the perception of art in the area.
The Deloitte Report, published in 2015, states art is recognised as an integral part of the community, and art produced in Western Sydney continues to set new standards. The report recommends more money be invested in arts within Western Sydney, and be delivered by Governments.
In ongoing efforts to foster arts in the community, the committee is looking at holding future workshops at night, led by talented artists, to attract more people to the art world.
The Camden Art Prize is open to the public until the 12 May, where all the entrants’ works will be on display.
Various artworks in the Camden Art Prize. Photos: Helen Megalokonomos
Article By: Helen Megalokonomos