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Kangaroo Valley Art Prize 2018

In 2018, under the direction of the new Visual Arts Director, Professor Gary Moore, we launched the inaugural Kangaroo Valley Art Prize.  We also expanded the Visual Arts in the Valley exhibition with a focus on artists local, regional and beyond including an invited Featured Artist.  Open for the first time to all artists, the Prize and Exhibition drew established and emerging artists from the greater Sydney area and south through the Southern Highlands, Canberra, Goulburn, Illawarra, Shoalhaven and the South Coast, elsewhere in NSW and interstate.  Thanks to generous local donors, prize money was significantly increased to $7000 making possible the inaugural $5000 Kangaroo Valley Art Prize.

Review by Wendy Calkhoven, reprinted with permission of the Kangaroo Valley Voice

The Kangaroo Valley Art Prize 2018 Exhibition was held over the Labour Day long weekend, from 28th September to 1st October, in the lovely Kangaroo Valley Hall that is often considered the heart of our beautiful community.

The exhibition was focused on Shoalhaven, Illawarra, Southern Highlands and regional artists but, in fact, was open to all. Expecting around 150 entrants, the organisers were overwhelmed by the 418 entries that steadily arrived for selection by the curator, Allan Baptist OAM. The exhibition also featured the work of Bowral artist and dual Archibald finalist, Vanessa Stockard, who had been invited to hold a solo showing. All artworks were available for sale and the newly established online gallery offered buyers the opportunity to purchase through the website.

I love art exhibitions, so needless to say I was very excited about the upcoming Kangaroo Valley Art Prize exhibition. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was blown away by the selection and sheer professionalism of both the artworks and the presentation of the show itself. Upon arrival, visitors were welcomed into a totally transformed space. Our village hall had morphed into an intriguing art gallery. There was a lot to take in, but clever curating helped me and the steady stream of other visitors, over 1000 throughout the weekend, to move through the room-like groupings that displayed the 118 finalists.

The opening night was abuzz with activity. An enthusiastic crowd of over 300 guests enjoyed champagne and hors d’œuvrés while viewing the wide selection of art works and eagerly awaiting the judges’ selections. Finally, Natalia Bradshaw, international contemporary art judge, and Therese Kenyon, Sydney artist, educator and writer, announced the Kangaroo Valley Art Prize 2018 winner and the two Highly Commended recipients. 

The Highly Commended prize was shared between two fascinating photographic works. Byzantium (Arcadia)1, a photograph by Sydney artist Manuela Chapman, was gorgeous. Masses of delicate folds of the palest pink fabric filling the image and printed on fine quality watercolour paper resulted in a truly beautiful photograph. Just as captivating was Music by local artist Jon Frank, a seven-minute video capturing dramatic coastal images set to Sol Seppy’s emotive sound-track. We all know how to hang a painting, but how does one ‘display’ a video? Maybe the images can be captured on that big black space in our living areas that is the television screen? How captivating would that be!

The Prize winning art work, Rain Setting In, an oil on canvas by Mittagong artist Robyn Kinsela, was a little gem. Tucked away in a nondescript space, it certainly caught the judges’ eye. “A weirdly easy decision”, they pronounced. A refreshing change from the “Gosh! It was so hard to choose…” we usually hear from judges of all descriptions. Kinsela’s multilayered, textual technique resulted in a beautifully atmospheric work. I, personally, was captivated by it.

Local valley artists were well represented; over 60% of those who entered were accepted. It was great to see Leah Parish’s much-loved black and white cows represented in colourful oil on canvas in Morning Walk with Bobby. Local artist Jon Frank, who received a Highly Commended and emerging artist Susan Hansel’s Marrakai were interesting works. Allan Gilden’s exquisitely quilted Dawn Kimono was beautiful while the moody Brumes et Pluies by A-F Fulgence demanded attention, as did Jamie Salkeld’s stunning photograph, The Burning, along with many more. All the valley artists made a lasting impression – if only I had the wall space to hang them. 

There was a diverse selection, both in price range and style. For example, there was a delightful little lino print for around $100 that caught my eye but the piece that most of us were stunned by was the amazing colour pencil on paper by Bundanoon artist Sonja Bowden, Chirnside Shearing Shed. I wasn't surprised it won the People’s Choice Prize. The detail depicting the shaggy sheep and the very handsome sheep dog was extraordinary and, at the upper end of the price range, the price of this work reflected its quality.

I was looking forward to viewing Vanessa Stockard’s work. The word that comes to mind to describe this artist’s style is ‘startling’! Bold, playful but sometimes downright spooky, I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on this talented artist’s work.

A small section of  Vanessa Stockard's solo show
A small section of Vanessa Stockard's solo show

Thirty-eight finalist works were sold, close to 30%, a terrific result that reflects the success of the show for its organisrs. “The whole exhibition has been fantastic, and we are chuffed with the response”, said Gary Moore, the Visual Arts Director. Curator Allan Baptist AOM, said it was the best regional art show he'd seen in all Australia.

On reflection, I commend Gary Moore and his dedicated team for this outstanding event. And, of course, an event like this is not possible without the very generous prize money donations from several valley residents. 

Part of the wonderful volunteer crew
Part of the wonderful volunteer crew

Prize Winners' Gallery

Rain Setting In

Robyn Kinsela

Winner - Kangaroo Valley Arts Prize


Jon Frank

Video and Print -Highly Commended

Byzantium (Arcadia) I

Minuella  Chapman

Photo on Arches Aquarelle paper - Highly Commended

Chirnside Shearing Shed

Sonja Bowden

Coloured pencil on paper- Winner, People's Choice

Curator & Judges 2018

The prizes were made possible through the generous support of the following people:

Kangaroo Valley Art Prize – Antony White & Alex Michael and an anonymous donor

Highly Commended Prize – Michael Noonan and Alice Oppen OAM

People’s Choice Prize – Denise & John Wright, Jolanta Masojada, and Kerri Carlton & Gary Moore

For updates and exhibition information, please join our Mailing List.

Enquiries regarding Visual Arts in the Valley please contact Gary Moore, Director at


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