EJ Mantova art prize winners announced

Bellingen Agricultural Society President Dr Susan Lumsdaine welcomed everyone to Bellingen Gallery and Framing Studio.

WINNERS of the EJ Mantova Memorial Art Prize have been announced, following the official opening of the annual event on Saturday 6 April at the Bellingen Gallery and Framing Studio.

The Art Prize attracted a record breaking 153 entries across four categories, each with a first prize of $500 and a second prize of $200.

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Renowned local artist and this year’s Art Prize judge Karlee Rawkins announced the winners and provided a commentary on the winning entries with explanations behind her decisions.

Rawkins’ commented that she gravitated towards pieces that resonated with her, favouring bold, authentic and quirky works with a distinctive artistic voice.

She commended all of the exhibiting artists for their commitment to the local art scene, and said she was struck by the colour, skill and effort delivered by the artists, especially significant for a small town.

The 1st prize winners of the four categories are as follows.


Artist Julia May with ‘Horatio & the Girls’ (Gouache on clay board).

Judge’s comment: “Unique composition and captivating portrayal, with distinctive use of shadows and greenery.
“’Horatio’ engages the viewer with its direct gaze, offering a novel perspective on the subject matter.”


Artist Coco Elder with ‘Canopy of Water Gums, The Never Never’ (Oil on board).

Judge’s comment: “An engaging and confident piece, impresses with its detailed use of colour, and skillful combination of guaging and painting techniques; very appealing.”

Works on Paper

Artist Warren Brisley with ‘Winging’ (linocut).

Judge’s comment: “Range and tactileness showcasing mark-making techniques and use of pattern.

“The subject matter fills the composition, while the bold framing accentuates the composition and size of the subject.”


Artist Jasper Breeze with ‘Pinocchio!’ (ceramic).

Judge’s comment: “Bold and absurd idea, well executed.”

Bellingen Agricultural Society President Dr Susan Lumsdaine welcomed artists, sponsors, volunteers and the general viewing public to the celebratory event.

Bellingen Shire Mayor Steve Allen officially opened the Art Prize and celebrated the breadth of talent in the community.

He commended the initiative to extend the Art Prize exhibition dates and to relocate to the Bellingen Gallery and Framing Studio.

Art Prize Coordinator Barb Edols affirmed the Mayor’s remarks, commenting, “The success of this year’s EJ Mantova Memorial Art Prize at its new location speaks volumes, with a remarkable 30 percent increase in entries reflecting the positive impact of extending the exhibition’s duration and moving it to the town centre.”

Voting now goes to the public for the People’s Choice.

You can view and vote at the Bellingen Gallery and Framing Studio.

Winners of the People’s Choice Award will be announced at the Bellingen Show.

Also exhibited were six ‘lost’ EJ Mantova originals, which have been gifted to the Bellingen community by the family of the original owner, John McTackett.

Donations are being sought to cover artwork restoration costs estimated at $3,000, necessary before the artworks can be permanently displayed.

The EJ Mantova Art Prize, run by The Bellinger River Agricultural Society and held in conjunction with the annual Bellingen Show, has been running since the early 1970s.

The prize pays homage to Ernest John Mantova, considered Bellingen’s first professional artist, who spent 20 years in the town producing countless landscape works and helping local artists establish their own creative practice.


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