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2021 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, Bendigo VIC


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their elders past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good evening, everyone.

Linda and I are delighted to be with you for the announcement of the Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize.

This biennial event is keenly anticipated by the arts community and is one of the signature events on the calendar.

We’re also delighted to be in Bendigo and Victoria.

As much as we enjoyed 270-odd Zoom meetings during Canberra’s most recent lockdown, it is wonderful to be able to turn Zoom off for a while and to physically get out and about and meet people under the same roof.

Similarly, it’s great that our collective response to the pandemic and the rising vaccination rates mean that we are all able to enjoy galleries, exhibitions, shows and performances.

I’m conscious that it has been a particularly difficult time for our creative industries.

We need the arts. We need to be inspired, challenged and uplifted – regardless of the medium as that’s what the arts do.

So, welcome and thank you for having Linda and me here today.

The Arthur Guy Memorial Prize has a rich history.

As you know it was initiated by the late Allen Guy in honour of his brother, Arthur, who was killed in New Guinea in 1945.

Allen was a great supporter of the Bendigo Art Gallery and wanted to create something meaningful and of lasting value to living artists and the local Bendigo community.

It is safe to say that he achieved that.

It is a wonderful legacy that has had a meaningful impact and we recognise Allen’s foresight and vision.

Immediately prior to coming here tonight, Linda and I had the privilege of meeting members of the Guy family. They are just as passionate about the arts as ever, are still involved in the management of the Prize, and are thrilled that Arthur’s legacy is being honoured in this way.

The Prize was inaugurated in 2003. Right from the beginning the Prize attracted significant interest and high-calibre entries.

I’m informed that works displayed in this year’s finalists’ exhibition have been selected from an impressive pool of 355 entries by artists from all around the country.

As Linda and I say like to say on occasions such as this, ‘You’re all winners!’

A few thank yous before I finish:

To all at the Bendigo Art Gallery for again hosting the Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize.

To the three judges: Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, Tanja Johnston and Jessica Bridgfoot. I am familiar with Tanja and Mark’s work with ANVAM and acknowledge their support of veterans’ art.

And to all those who have gone out of their way to help artists and arts organisations during the pandemic. Your actions are a reflection of the power of the arts to unite, and the generosity and support that exists within the arts community.

Well done, all, and good luck to the artists.

I look forward to announcing the winner shortly.

[Announcement of winner]

It is my privilege to be able to announce the winner of the 2021 Arthur Guy Memorial Prize.

I’m told that the judging panel had a shared excitement about the winning work.

It is a magical ecology of forms at play, in an energetic and elegant composition with so much to discover. Through a confident application of colour, and line and tone, recognisable symbols and motifs slip in and out of our recognition.

The artist shows a real enjoyment in the process of making.

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the 2021 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize is Kirsty Budge for her work titled, “Ok, so is this a fresh hell or are we just adding to the regular one today?”

Congratulations, Kirsty!