Calling all Yass Valley artists, are you ready to get in touch with your creative side?

The annual National Capital Art Prize, now in its third year, opened up entries on March 1st for the 2023 competition.

Artists around Australia are invited to take part, with $45,000 prize money up for grabs across three categories, including: Open Prize, First Nations Prize for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and the Sustainability Prize, with each winner set to take home a $15,000 cash prize.

The Open and First Nations prize categories must be a painting, of any subject, that can be framed and hung on the wall. The Sustainability category is open to all mediums including sculpture and photography.

The Sustainability Prize category is based on the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships. This was the most popular category in 2022, with some fascinating and thought-provoking works submitted.

Hailing originally from Boorowa and presently living just outside Binalong, Liz Corkhill-Knight was one of the finalists in the Open Division of the National Capital Art Prize in 2021 with her piece titled ‘Transport to Unite’ – a time when people were struggling to unite during the Covid pandemic.

Local artist Liz Corkhill National Capital Art Competition 2021 finalist

The National Capital Art Prize encourages people living rurally to get involved and enter the competition – it’s not just for those in the city.

The Times spoke to National Capital Art Prize Founder Robert (better known as Bob) Stephen about the competition and what it means.

“I started the National Capital Art Prize three years ago during Covid when I thought artists were not getting that much exposure because of the lockdowns and the chaos that was going on,” Stephen said.

“I created it then with the idea of giving artists an opportunity to put their work into a worthwhile competition Australia wide. 

“I wanted to make the prize a little different than normal art competitions because essentially these things cost a lot of money to do. I was making it an artist funded prize to an extent. 

“Some sponsors including Aarwun Gallery which I own as the major sponsor, as well as Canberra Airport and I put some money into it to get it off the ground. It’s one of those prizes that is a little bit different, it’s not government or corporate-backed, it’s backed by individual artists and people like myself.

“The voting is all judged by some pretty eminent judges here in Canberra, but we’ve had finalists from every state in Australia.

“Entrees have come from everywhere, from remote places in the Northern Territory and the Pilbara, there were 129 finalists last year, from every state.

“We’ve reached out to as many areas as possible which gave anybody a chance to enter a major art competition. 

Stephen strongly encourages those living regionally and rurally to get involved in the National Capital Art Prize. 

“We’ve done a lot of social media advertising and things of that nature. We had a finalist last year from Boorowa who had an amazing photograph,” he said.

“Too often you’ll find art prizes are dominated by the eastern states or major cities, I want to get out to regional communities and that’s what we’re doing.

“I want to encourage everybody to become a part of it because it’s an artist-funded prize, without their support the prize doesn’t exist. 

“I actually go out to the centre visiting indigenous communities encouraging them to become involved. So, a lot of effort go into it.

“The rewards are that we’ve had thousands and thousands of people looking at it online. Last year we had 800 entries and at the exhibition itself we had 9000 people come through to look at it.

“We’re pretty excited at how it has gone, with it being our third year we want to get out to even more people.

“It’s a grassroots competition, it’s not a gallery which has substantial backing behind it, it’s been exciting and encouraging.

“It’s an art prize open to everybody, I set out to make sure everybody can become a part of it. That’s one of the successes of it. It’s given so much opportunity across different genres of art and artists to get into a national art prize with some money on the line too.”

The Award Night and Public Exhibition for the National Capital Art Prize Opens the week of Monday September 11th and is held at the Fitters’ Workshop in Kingston. 

“Entries have already opened, we’ve got quite a number of entries already, which is a good start,” Stephen continued.

“In the first year we received 1000 entries, 800 last year and this year because it’s well established and has got lots of publicity, we would hope that we get even more than we’ve ever had.” 

2023 Important Dates

Online entries open: 1 March, 6am AEST

Entries close: 30 June, 7pm AEST

Online voting for People’s Choice Award opens: 20 July

Online voting for People’s Choice Award closes: 11 September, 11.59pm AEST

Award Night and Public Exhibition Opens: Week of 11 September

Tim Warren