Anh Nguyen, Jamboree Mornings (detail), 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 64 x 94cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Basil Sellers Art Prize 2020
Sat 10 October – Sun 8 November 2020

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 4pm

Now in its 9th year, the Basil Sellers Art Prize cements Eurobodalla’s support of the arts, not only in south east NSW but throughout the state and beyond.

Boasting a major prize of $20,000, a Eurobodalla prize of $5,000 and a People’s Choice of $500, the Basil Sellers Art Prize attracts the crème de la crème of artists practicing across NSW and the ACT.

The major prize is generously supported by businessman and philanthropist, Mr Basil Sellers AM. The winning artwork is acquired and placed into his extensive private art collection. The Eurobodalla prize is supported by the Eurobodalla Shire Council and will be acquired and added to its permanent art collection.

Virtual Exhibition Tour

2020 Finalists:

Jane Aliendi
Robert Berry
Yvonne Boag
Kristone Paulo Capistrano
Tristan Chant
Lorna Crane
Nicolette Eisdell
Mirabel FitzGerald
Steve Fox
Anna Glynn
Victoria Hempstead
Julie Mia Holmes
Janece Huntley
Yvonne Langshaw
Raewyn Lawrence
Libby Moore
Susan Nader
James Needham
Catherine O’Donnell
Veronica Mary O’Leary
Steven Thomas
Karyn Louise Thompson
Mark Ward
Simon Welsh
Stuart Robert Whitelaw
Peter Matthew Yates

Basil Sellers Art Prize 2020 Judge:

Daniel Soma; Director, Michael Reid – Sydney 

Daniel Soma is a Sydney based arts professional dedicated to growing Australian contemporary art.

A graduate of UNSW COFA, Daniel spent his formative years in the culturally diverse suburbs of Sydney’s west – an experience he believes now guides his critical and emotional engagement with art.

Daniel’s diverse career has seen him work across a spectrum of art platforms over the last eight years, holding notably positions including arts consultant and commercial gallery manager. Daniel’s thorough understanding of the commercial art sector has seen him produce and deliver exceptional exhibitions

Daniel’s mature approach to the art sector sees him providing valuable mentorship to artists at all stages of their careers.

Artists Profiles

Basil Sellers Art Prize 2020 Winner – Peter Matthew Yates

Winner of the Basil Sellers Art Prize 2020 Peter Matthew Yates

Tell us about yourself and your art practice.
I was very interested in art as a child and my parents were extremely supportive – encouraging me to experiment with everything from ceramics to quilling. Much of my early artistic expression came from my Mum. She makes the most incredible mosaics and leadlight art, including some adaptions of my childhood pastel drawings. I studied art through high school but then it took a back seat while I pursued a career in science. Lately I’ve been placing additional focus on art, and my primary concern is spending maximum time on a mission to interpret and simplify the world around me with paint. I’ve also been engaging more with other artists and learning about art history and traditional techniques. I’m frequently in awe of the world around me and am compelled to develop a vocabulary to express even a fraction of that feeling.

What does winning this year’s $20,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize mean to you?

Winning the 2020 Basil Sellers Art Prize means so much to me and I’m extremely grateful to Mr Basil Sellers and to everyone involved in the event. After a disrupted 2020, the award will have a very tangible positive impact on my art practice – in the form of more materials and time to make art. It was so nice to share the event with my friends and family who are spread across the country. Receiving positive feedback from this year’s judge Daniel Soma and Mr Sellers was wonderful too. The event has also prompted me to come for a long overdue road trip to the south coast and I’m looking forward to visiting the Bas and seeing the other artworks.

Basil Sellers Art Prize 2020 winning artwork 'Connection' by Peter Matthew Yates
Peter Matthew Yates, Connection, 2020, Oil on linen, 34 x 25cm

On selecting your work, Connection, this year’s judge, Daniel Soma commented: “This was a painting I just kept going back to… A wonderful and refreshing interpretation of the COVID narrative, the glow of the screen on the sitters face and the headphones both subtle and effective”.
This work was made via a virtual life drawing class of a sitter located on the other side of the globe. Can you tell us more about the experience of painting a sitter in this way, and the effects of COVID on your practice?

Pre-COVID I was studying at an atelier style art school with a focus on drawing and painting from life. While the school was closed, I discovered some fantastic online workshops and courses and I was able to stay in touch with a great community of artists – including via video call! Earlier attempts to paint my partner from life ended in frustration so the online sittings were a nice alternative. I sought reference from a screenshot plus the live interview on screen. This combination provided much more information about the sitter’s personality and of the scene. It was an interesting interview and I was struck by the interplay of two light sources on the sitter’s face. Overall, spending more time at home during 2020 has had an enormous impact on my art practice. It forced me to solve artistic puzzles on my own and it created a circumstance where I’ve felt able to make art every day.

Tell us about your career as a marine scientist and what effects it has on your art practice?

I’ve always been fascinated with nature and our relationship with it as humans. As a teenager I was especially drawn to the ocean and it was the focus of both my scientific and artistic endeavours through my twenties. My PhD investigated shark nursery habitats and when I had the energy to paint it was always of the ocean. It felt like two parallel threads but increasingly I’m learning that they can entwine. Art and science are both great ways to observe and relate to the world, ask questions, attempt to understand complexity, and then communicate something. I also like that in both we lean heavily on the progress, techniques and knowledge provided by those before us.

To see more of Peter’s work check out Peter Yates Art on Instagram.

Eurobodalla Prize 2020 Winner – Raewyn Lawrence

Winner of the Eurobodalla Prize 2020 Raewyn Lawrence

Tell us about yourself and your art practice.

My childhood was spent on a wheat and sheep property in regional NSW. A place of cold winters, hot summers and big open skies. I moved away, to Sydney to study art at what is now known as the National Art School (NAS) in Darlinghurst. What a culture shock! For those that don’t know, the NAS is located within the high sandstone walls of the old convict jail. A very historical and haunting place, but I loved it.

Sydney seemed hard to escape, but finally I did and so happy for it. I was lucky to still have the connections and opportunity to exhibit there on a number of occasions.

Starting a family pretty much brought an abrupt halt to my painting for a time, but what a trade off. I’ve been so blessed to have two wonderful young people in my life. They have also been a great subject source for some of my work over the years. I suppose their affect on me has triggered more interest in translating some more personal work that explores emotions and events from my own life and family history.

Landscapes are still very current subjects in my work and living on the NSW south coast, I find it impossible not to feel in awe of the beauty of the natural world. The light and colours that are constantly changing are an endless source of inspiration. Another rich resource is our local history and folklore, both indigenous and colonial. So many stories!

I do carry a sketch pad with me pretty much all of the time, but I enjoy painting mainly in the solitude of the studio, a place where productivity can blend with cups of tea and contemplation.

What does winning this year’s Eurobodalla Prize of $5,000 and a solo exhibition at the Bas in 2021 mean to you?

It has been an absolute honour and surprise to have my painting chosen from such a selection of beautiful work. Along with winning the Eurobodalla Prize I have to admit a big OMG moment when realising there was also an expectation of an exhibition of work to create in less than a year. But that was last week. Feeling optimistic, even excited about the opportunity now.

The prize of $5,000 is a very generous gift from the Council and greatly appreciated. It will relieve much of the stress related to the expenses of presenting a body of work for show. The cost of materials and framing etc. can be quite inhibiting at times for us artists.

Eurobodalla Prize 2020 winning artwork 'Smoke' by Raewyn Lawrence
Raewyn Lawrence, Smoke, 2020, Oil on canvas, 76 x 91cm

On selecting your work, ‘Smoke’, this year’s judge Daniel Soma commented “It is a painting that you can feel, smell… the artist managed to capture a quiet moment within a very chaotic period”. Can you tell us more about the scene in your work and how it resonates with your experience of the past summer fires?

‘Smoke’ came from a small, quick pencil sketch of a bush track. A compilation of inspiring moments I’ve felt on some of our many beautiful walking trails. I hadn’t initially intended to paint a charred landscape, but in transferring to canvas with colour, it was never going to be anything else. Like many, I feel the past summers fire experience has left an unusually high level of anxiety, still sitting quietly within us.

The thick smell of smoke, the continuous sounds of sirens and low flying aircraft, the constant packing and unpacking of precious belongings in the care. Not knowing where or when the fire will arrive. The need for a moment of peace and calm was overwhelming. We all just wanted the fires to stop. With that said, there is a strange beauty in the colours. The orange glow of the sun through it’s smoky filter, contrasted with the blue from the smouldering ground and in using those colours, I have tried to find that moment of peace within my painting.

What can we expect from your solo exhibition at the Bas in 2021?

This is a rather difficult question to answer distinctly at this stage. I expect my exhibition next year will be a mixture of some of my favourite pieces and many new works. It will be a great opportunity for me to explore and develop some ideas that have been floating around in my mind for some time. I have been longing to learn more about my chosen medium and having the application of the paint being as important or more important than the subject. Regardless of the shape of the exhibition it will be a very positive development in my journey as an artist.

Announcing the Basil Sellers Art Prize 2020 Winners

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The Basil Sellers Exhibition Centre recognises Aboriginal people as the original inhabitants and custodians of all land and water in the Eurobodalla and respects their enduring cultural and spiritual connection to it. The Bas acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land in which we live and pays respect to Elders past, present and future.