The Dobell Prize is Australia’s most respected prize for drawing and one of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ highly anticipated annual events.


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The Art Gallery of New South Wales

Dobell Prize for Drawing winners

The Dobell Prize for Drawing, initiated by the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation is an acquisitive award, first awarded in 1993. The Dobell Prize is Australia’s most respected prize for drawing and one of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ highly anticipated annual events.

The Dobell Prize has always been the subject of discussion and debate about the nature of drawing. What constitutes a drawing is however deliberately not outlined in the conditions of entry. That has been left for competing artists to define by their practice and for each individual judge, annually appointed by the trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, to determine in the process of looking at all the entries.

“If the artist says it’s a drawing, it’s a drawing,” said Arthur Boyd, inaugural judge, 1993.

Kevin Connor was the first Dobell Drawing Prize winner with a gritty drawing in black ink and white gouache, Pyrmont and the city. It was chosen by Arthur Boyd (1920-99), the first of many distinguished artists, curators and specialists in drawing to judge the Prize. Connor won it again in 2005. Among previous prize-winners are Jan Senbergs, Godwin Bradbeer, Pam Hallandal (twice), David Fairbairn, Nick Mourtzakis (twice), Aida Tomescu and Gary Shead. Former judges of the Prize include James Gleeson, John Olsen, Margaret Olley, Colin Lanceley and Betty Churcher.

Dobell Prize for Drawing Past Winners

1993 - Kevin Connor - Pyrmont and the city
1994 - Thomas Spence - The roofs of Oxford Street (Taylor Square)
1995 - Jan Senbergs - Kitchen at Smacka's
1996 - Pam Hallandal - Self portrait
1997 - Peter Bonner - Interior
1998 - Godwin Bradbeer - Man of paper VII
1999 - David Fairbairn (artist) - Portrait of Tao Triebels
2000 - Nick Mourtzakis - Untitled study
2001 - Nicholas Harding - Eddy Avenue (3)
2002 - Mary Tonkin - Rocky outcrop, Werribee Gorge
2003 - Aida Tomescu - "Negru III and Negru IV" (A candle in a dark room)
2004 - Garry Shead - Colloquy with John Keats (diptych)
2005 - Kevin Connor - Le Grand Palais, Clémenceau, de Gaulle and me
2006 - Nick Mourtzakis - nature. insects plants flowers. shell fish corals. the microscopic creatures. dreams
2007 - Ann Pollak - Mullet Creek
2008 - Virginia Grayson - No Conclusions Drawn + ABC coverage
2009 - Pam Hallandal - Tsunami
2010 - Suzanne Archer - Derangement
2011 - Anne Judell - Breath
2012 - Gareth Sansom - Made in Wadeye

Gareth Sansom wins 2012 Dobell Prize

For his work ‘Made in Wadeye’

Gareth Sansom Made in Wadeye 2012, suite of 20 drawings on white cartridge paper, ink, lead pencil, graphite, coloured watercolour pencil, felt tipped pen, ball point pen, egg tempera, earth, collage 29.7 × 42 cm each sheet, 119 × 210 cm overall © Gareth Sansom

30 November 2012. The Art Gallery of NSW today announced that Gareth Sansom is the winner of the Dobell Prize for Drawing 2012 for his work, Made in Wadeye, a suite of 20 drawings in ink, lead pencil, graphite, coloured watercolour pencil, felt tipped pen, ball point pen, egg tempera, earth and collage.

Gareth Sansom was awarded $30 000. In this 20th year of the prize, 639 drawings were entered, of which 47 have been chosen as finalists.

Sansom has been a pre-eminent figure of the Australian avant-garde for over 50 years. His watercolours, collages and paintings are based on a personal iconography that includes imagery of a sexual, satirical and philosophical nature.

The winning work, Made in Wadeye, was made during the artist’s visit to a remote Aboriginal settlement south-west of Darwin during September 2012, where his wife was engaged in clinical work as a doctor. Reference to the Wadeye community can be found in a small, collaged, photocopied map, and earth, captured in the egg tempera paint. But although the visit to Wadeye was the impetus for the series, it was not its subject. As the artist states: ‘I make stream-of-consciousness drawings with sources going back years.’

Made in Wadeye hovers on the outskirts of figuration and on the borderline of abstraction. I am attracted to the freshness of the work, its clarity and its light playfulness, and the unpredictability of the succession of images, and delicacy of the rapport between them,’ said Aida Tomescu, the judge for this year’s Dobell Prize.

Born in Melbourne, Gareth Sansom, 73, studied art at RMIT between 1959 and 1964 and came to prominence in the 1960s as a radical convention-breaking painter, with influences ranging from Picasso and Jean Dubuffet to Francis Bacon and British pop art. He was Head of Painting, then Dean of the School of Art, at the Victorian College of the Arts between 1977 and 1991. Sansom has exhibited widely, represented Australia at the Seventh Triennale, India in 1991 and won numerous awards, including the National Works on Paper Award in 2006 and John McCaughey Memorial Prize in 2008.

It was also announced today that this year will be the final Dobell Drawing Prize in its present form. After 20 years, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation have confirmed a renewed and refreshed approach to the exhibition of contemporary Australian drawing at the Gallery and are pleased to announce a new initiative at the Art Gallery of NSW – the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial – to be launched in 2014.


Anne Judell wins Dobell Prize for Drawing 2011

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Anne Judell Breath (triptych), 52 × 37 cm each image, pastel, graphite

It was announced 2 December 2011 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales that Anne Judell is the winner of the 2011 Dobell Prize for Drawing for her work Breath, a triptych in pastel on fine paper.

Anne Judell was awarded $25,000 for winning Australia’s most important prize for drawing. A record number of 734 entries were entered this year, of which 49 are included in the exhibition, on display from today until 5 February 2012.

A frequent inclusion in the exhibition of finalists of past Dobell Prize exhibitions, Judell’s work is widely admired amongst artists, critics and collectors of contemporary Australian art.

Her drawings and pastels are often described as abstract because she deals with the ineffable: Art, for me, is the mystery itself, as well as being the means to explore the mystery. – Anne Judell

The prize was judged this year by the distinguished artist Guy Warren. Of the winning entry he writes:

Although there are many works in this year’s Dobell which call urgently for serious consideration, the chosen work demands attention by calling softly. In a world of clashes and chaos this work speaks of something different. With dense layers and subtle surfaces it talks of the mystery of growth, of essences and fragility, of quiet contemplation. It is like a thought once understood and lost, which one tries to grasp again.

Born in Melbourne in 1942, Anne Judell studied at RMIT, has lived and travelled in Europe and the USA and moved to Sydney to live in 1977. Since 1992 she has lived and worked in the southern highlands of New South Wales. The Campbelltown City Art Gallery staged a survey exhibition of her work in 2002.

Artist Guy Warren will judge the 2011 Dobell Drawing Prize and the winner will be announced, Friday 2 December at 11am. Winning artist receives $25,000 and the work is automatically added to the Art Gallery of NSW collection. The exhibition of selected artists will be on display from 2 December 2011 until 12 February 2012.

The Sir William Dobell Foundation has contributed enormously to the Art Gallery of NSW collection. Established by the Foundation in 1993, the Dobell Prize has created a significant collection of Australian drawings by leading artists. In 1990, the Foundation gifted some 1000 drawings by the late William Dobell (1899-1970). Dobell was an exceptional draughtsman of the figure, portraits and genre. These drawings, available in the Gallery’s Study Room, reveal exceptional quality of his work from his student years in Sydney, his time in London, return to Australia and subsequent years of fame and maturity.


Suzanne Archer wins Dobell Prize for Drawing 2010

Suzanne Archer Derangement, © the artist. Winner Dobell Prize for Drawing 2010

Friday 5 November. Announced today at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

It was announced today at the Art Gallery of New South Wales that Suzanne Archer is the winner of the 2010 Dobell Prize for Drawing for her work Derangement.

Suzanne Archer was awarded $25,000 for winning Australia’s most important prize for drawing. This year there were 635 entries, of which 45 are included in the exhibition.

The subject of the winning drawing is a self-portrait of the artist in her studio. At either side of the central form of her face are some of the objects she has gathered there: a desiccated kangaroo and a sculpture of a horse’s head the artist made from wood found in the nearby bush. It is part of a larger body of work that has arisen from drawings Archer made of animals at the Veterinary Science laboratories at Sydney University in 2004, as well as of skulls and bones collected near her bush studio, and from a developing awareness arising out of her relationship with these animal remains, of her own mortality.

Suzanne Archer is a senior painter, sculptor, printmaker and teacher who has lived and worked at Wedderburn in the south-west Sydney region since the late 1980s. Born in 1945 in Surrey, England, she studied at Sutton School of Art prior to migrating to Australia in 1965. She has exhibited widely since the mid ’60s, was granted residencies in New York and Paris in 1978-79 and has won numerous awards, including a fellowship from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council in 1993 and the Wynne Prize in 1994. She has been a Dobell Prize finalist three times (in 2000, 2002 and 2009).

The Dobell Prize for Drawing, initiated by the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, is an acquisitive prize, first awarded in 1993.

This year’s judge was Alun Leach-Jones. Alun is a Sydney painter, draughtsman, sculptor and printmaker.

Alun Leach-Jones comments: the work is expressive, darkly poetic and full of drama. There is an ambiguous narrative, alive with vivid and sinister images that are depictive, symbolic and metaphoric. The subject of drawing is drawing itself. Suzanne Archer’s winning work clearly shows her awareness of this profound aspect of the art of drawing – regardless of its apparent subject matter.




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