More than 450 art works by students at 35 schools throughout northern NSW have arrived at the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) as entries in the ninth annual University of New England Schools Acquisitive Art Prize (UNESAP) competition.
A panel of judges has had the difficult task of selecting about 60 of those works – i.e., the entries of the finalists in the competition – for NERAM’s “Let’s Hang It” exhibition opening at 6 pm on Friday 20 July.
“This year we’re seeing many more small regional schools participating in this event,” said the UNESAP Coordinator, Jennifer Butler. “And also the use of a greater variety of materials and media – including painting on canvas, mixed media, collage, print-making, and photography. The overall quality of the works is fantastic.”
UNE’s Dr Frances Alter founded UNESAP in 2004 from within the Faculty of The Professions at UNE, in partnership with NERAM and the art supply company S&S Creativity Unlimited, to encourage the teaching of – and participation in – visual arts creativity in schools in regional NSW. Last year, with a growing number of schools participating, UNE handed over the management of the event to NERAM.
There are four categories in the competition – Infants, Primary, Junior Secondary (Years 7-9) and Senior Secondary (Years 10-12). “The selection of finalists was extremely difficult, with such an enthusiastic response in all categories,” Ms Butler said. “The standard of the art work entered is of a remarkable quality for the ages involved, and reflects the outstanding talent to be found in regional schools.”
“People now recognise the opening of the ‘Let’s Hang It’ exhibition as an annual event,” said the Museum’s Deputy Director (Education and Operations), Christine Durham, “and it brings to NERAM one of its biggest crowds of the year. It’s an important community-engagement event.
“Engaging children with art is a priority for the Museum, and it’s a great encouragement for them to be able to submit a work of art and have the opportunity of its being part of a public exhibition at NERAM.”
“An art museum is for everyone,” Ms Durham said.
During the opening event on the 20th of July, prizes of cash and art materials will be presented to the winner and runner-up in each category, “Certificates of Distinction” will be presented to all the finalists, and guests at the event will vote for the winner of a “People’s Choice Award”.
The guest judge this year is the Walcha-based landscape painter Ross Laurie.