Art fires winter celebrations
The winter celebrations are firing-up in Hobart, and this year’s offering includes the Hadley’s Art Prize which is back again, and twice the size.
As the cold descends on Hobart, the city comes alive with unique cultural events that further brands it as an important centre for the arts.
The party began in early June, when Dark Mofo unleashed subversive celebrations that include a man buried alive under Macquarie Street.
Before finally drawing to a close with the Hadley’s Art Prize, which is already establishing itself as an important cultural fixture.
“Winter is a special time to visit Hobart,” Hadley’s Art Prize curator, Dr Amy Jackett, said.
“Dark Mofo ignited our winter and was the catalyst for other events. The Hadley’s Art Prize contributes to the growing arts scene and completes the winter events calendar.”
This exciting new event burst onto the stage last year, offering a purse of $100,000 for the winner, and staking its claim as the world’s richest award for Landscape art.
The inaugural award attracted 380 entries, with Aboriginal artist, Peter Mungkuri, taking out the coveted prize for Ngura Wiru (good country) inspired by his central Australian birthplace.
This year the Hadley’s Art Prize has taken an enormous leap forward, with the number of entries jumping to 640.
“This has exceeded all our expectations,” Dr Jackett said.
“We are totally overwhelmed with the entries, which is almost double those entered for the inaugural award last year.”
The Hadley’s Art Prize is an annual acquisitive award which promotes and celebrates paintings and drawings of the landscape by contemporary Australian artists.
It is headed up by an eminent panel of three national judges who will announce the winner in late July. This will be followed by an exhibition of finalists’ works at Hobart’s historic Hadley’s Orient Hotel.
And, while it is still early days, the enormous response to this year’s prize has instilled great confidence, with Dr Jackett saying the award is now generating enormous interest within Australia’s artistic community.
She praises the Hadley’s Art Prize as a “major coup for Tasmania” which will continue to build on our status as “an island of art”.
But what do others think?
Leading Tasmanian art identity, Allanah Dopson – who runs the Handmark Galleries in Hobart and Evandale – has been watching with great interest.
Her galleries will even be staging special landscape exhibitions to coincide with the Hadley’s Art Prize.
Ms Dopson, also Brand Tasmania Deputy Chair, said having the world’s richest prize for landscape art is wonderful for Hobart – and in fact the state – on so many levels.
She called the Hadley’s Art Prize “significant” and said although Tasmania is already “firmly on the radar” it would further cement our reputation as an arts hub, while at the same time supporting local artists and boosting winter tourism.
“Yes, this is a really important prize, but it is only in its second year and it will be fascinating to watch how it grows and evolves,” Ms Dopson said.
“It is such an amazing amount of money, that the Hadley’s Art Prize will no doubt develop into one of Australia’s more important art awards.”
Meantime, the philanthropist behind this lucrative offering also has his eyes firmly on the future.
Don Neil – the owner of Hadley’s Orient Hotel – dug deep into his own pockets as a “way to give back to Hobart” and is keen to reassure everyone that the world’s richest landscape prize is here to stay.
“This year is two in a row, and we need to impress on everyone that the Neil family is behind the Hadley’s Art prize on a permanent basis,” Mr Neil said.
“We have sufficient monies held in trust for this prize to be perpetual.”
Don Neil’s is a fascinating story.
As a young travelling shoe salesman, he would often stay at Hadley’s in the 1960s while he plied his wares. More than 50 years later he bought the hotel, after developing Hobart’s Old Woolstore Apartments in the 1980s.
And just like his inspiration – MONA’s creator David Walsh – Mr Neil is also passionate about using his good fortune to promote art in Hobart.
All this from a man who got an ‘E’ for art at school; does not collect art; and in fact, confesses to knowing very little about art at all.
“We see Hobart as continuing to emerge as a place of art,” Mr Neil said.
“The city has a very important tourist brand, but now it also has an important arts brand, and that is what we want to contribute to.”
Winter diary dates:
- Dark Mofo: 8 – 24 June 2018
- Festival of Voices: 29 June – 15 July 2018
- Hadley’s Art Prize: 20 July – 25 August 2018
Image courtesy of The Hadley’s Art Prize
12 June 2018, Edition 195