Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Almost time to get nude in Benalla

Benalla artist and Benalla Nude competition organiser Ivan Durrant said the prize received more than 600 entries.

MONIQUE FREER March 21, 2014 9:42am

Putting Benalla on the map: Benalla artist and Benalla Nude competition organiser Ivan Durrant said the prize received more than 600 entries.

More than 600 entries from all corners of Australia have been received in the Benalla Nude 2014 Art Prize.

Entries closed on February 21 for the bold new art prize, which is being hosted by Benalla Art Gallery.

Australian artist Ivan Durrant, who proposed the idea initially, said entries had been received from previous Archibald Prize winners and top Australian artists.

‘‘The entries are from every state in Australia including Western Australia and Northern Territory, so it’s really been taken up by everyone,’’ Mr Durrant said.

‘‘Benalla Gallery and Benalla is really on the map in terms of the art world now, the fact that every state and all the major artists took notice and put in entries, really puts us on the art world map again.’’

Benalla Nude judge Daniel Thomas said the prize was a rare opportunity to showcase figure painting.

‘‘I don’t think there’s been a special category art prize for figure painting of any kind, let alone nude, which is an important part of traditional painting,’’ he said.

‘‘It really does refresh the idea of what artists should be taking an interest in, like the figure, and maybe the nude figure is even more potent than the clothed figure.’’

The $50000 prize will be awarded to the best work of the naked human figure in oil, acrylic, watercolour or mixed media.

Mr Thomas said he would be judging the work two days before the April 10 announcement of the winner, and would be looking for strong aesthetic qualities in the art.

‘‘It’s just the same as for any category of art; freshness of the idea, seriousness of idea, genuine emotion, technical skill, all the basic things,’’ he said.

The prize is expected to attract plenty of visitors to Benalla, with shortlisted entries displayed at Benalla Art Gallery from April 11 to June 27.

‘‘The nude, even though it’s a traditional subject for thousands of years, it is always genuinely interesting,’’ Mr Thomas said.

‘‘It will simply remind people that Benalla exists and is worth the deviation as they zoom up and down the Hume highway.’’

The prizemoney has been donated by the volunteer group Friends of the Benalla Art Gallery, which has organised bus trips to other galleries, dinners and auctions to raise the funds.

Mr Durrant said he hoped the prize would become an annual event that would continue to grow.

‘‘I’m sure it will become an annual competition, there’s probably over $20000 already just in entry fees and with the money on the door I’m sure we’ll have enough money to run it again. I think it will just keep growing,’’ he said.

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