THIRTY-ONE contemporary Australian paintings from across the nation have been selected as finalists in Bendigo’s most prestigious art competition.
The Bendigo Art Gallery’s Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize is a no-rules affair, meaning the selected works range from seascapes to still lifes, abstract to Indigenous.
The gallery’s senior curator, Leanne Fitzgibbon, said the lack of restrictions lead to a broad snapshot of trends in contemporary Australian painting.
“There is no criteria to entry. The only prerequisite is that, as a painting prize, the works must contain an element of painting, as well as a few size restrictions,” she said.
“We like to keep parameters as open as possible and that means we get really good examples of what artists are actually working on in their studios across the country.
“We want to see the works that artists want to be working on.”
But Ms Fitzgibbon said the best thing about the competition was its legacy.
“The competition is acquisitive,” she said.
“The winning artist receives $50,000 and their work becomes part of our permanent collection and so belongs to the people of Bendigo.”
The biennial competition was established in 2003 by the late Allen Guy in memory of his brother Arthur, who was killed when his "Biscuit Bomber" was shot down over New Guinea during WWII.
“The Guy family initiated the prize as a way of honouring Arthur and to give back to Bendigo and also to the wider community,” Ms Fitzgibbon said.
This year nearly 250 artists submitted paintings to the competition, with entries coming from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Among the finalists are Castlemaine-couple Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, who have been working collaboratively since 1989.
“For the gallery, it was really pleasing to see among the best contemporary Australian painters these two locally-based artists who produced a work which is very technically brilliant and which captures the essence of the Australia bush,” Ms Fitzgibbon said.
The Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize prize has helped launch the careers of several contemporary Australian artists, Ms Fitzgibbon said.
“Stieg Persson said his  win was life-changing,” she said.
Other previous winners are Dale Frank (2005), Stephen Bush (2007), Jan Nelson (2009), Tim Johnson (2011) and Chris Bond (2012).
The finalists will be exhibited from August 29 to November 1 with the winner announced at the opening night.