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The link between art and sport was the
theme for this year’s Basil Sellers Art Prize.
Although they are seen as polar opposites,
the core principles of the arts and sport are
not so disparate. For example, the famous
French author Albert Camus was goalie for
the Racing Universitaire Algerios team and,
though unable to continue playing after
a bout of tuberculosis, he later wrote that
what he knew “... most surely about morality
and the duty of man I owe to sport”.
Australian art has long had an interest in
representing sport, from the early colonial
painting of an Aboriginal cricketer wielding
a bat, to Sidney Nolan’s football players
in striped jerseys, to the pathos of Tracey
Moffatt’s Fourth series, documenting those
who came fourth and just missed a medal
in the 2000 Olympic Games.
With sport now such a pervasive element
in all aspects of life in the twenty-first
century, it was appropriate that a focus on the
Woody Allen once said that 80 per cent
of success was showing up. Sadly, when
the Visual Arts Board (VAB) of the Australia
Council meets three times a year to allocate
grants, very few West Australians do. It’s
extremely disappointing to see so few when
the funding league table is drawn up at the
end of discussions. So, why is it they hardly
even show up in the VAB grant rounds?
One reason may be that the Department
of Culture and the Arts in WA has a program
of grants that are easily accessible and,
for good projects proposed by artists
with ability, not difficult to secure. This is
also the case with Queensland and, to a
lesser extent, South Australia, while NSW
doesn’t provide well for individual artists
(and hence each VAB round has a heavy
weighting of artists from that State). And, if
this is the case, then why should artists from
the West bother to compete nationally?
Firstly, it’s because the State Government
has invested in the program through the
Visual Arts and Craft Strategy and there are
a number of grants that are earmarked for
West Australian artists. Another reason for
applying is that in developing a professional
career in the arts, an important step is
to gain national recognition – an Australia
Council grant is a very effective way
of achieving that. It is also an excellent
forum for making an impression on the
select band of artists, arts administrators
and curators who sit on the panels. A strong
body of work presented to this group can
lead to unforeseen opportunities.
In other words, it’s important to get in the
game. It’s clear from anyone who does the
rounds of galleries and design outlets in
Western Australia that there are a great
many very committed, talented artists and
designers doing work that is inventive,
thoughtful and pertinent. It’s not about
rebuilding the State’s tarnished reputation
or engineering bellicose local pride, it’s about
getting appropriate support and recognition
for excellent work and ensuring that the
funds allocated to local artists and designers
are accessed and supplemented by other
available f unding. It’s about showing up!
Visit australiacouncil.gov.au .
Ted S nell is the U nivers ity of WA’s Cultural Precin ct directo r.
Not only is he a passionate art lover and academic, he is also the
ar t reviewer fo r The Australian n ewspaper in Western Au stralia
and chair of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council.
connections between art and sport should be
showcased in one of the country’s richest
awards, the Basil Sellers Art Prize. Held
biennially at the Ian Potter Museum of Art,
University of Melbourne, the exhibition’s brief
stated that, “for artists today, sport touches
upon anything from everyday life through to
globalisation, from the concrete experience
of a game through to abstract notions, like
cheating and fair play. Sport is about winners
and losers, individuals and teams, rules and
penalties, equipment and architecture, fans
and souvenirs, triumphs and scandals”.
This year, the acquisitive prize of $100,000
was contested by artists including Vernon
Ah Kee, Eric Bridgeman, Juan Ford, Phillip
George (from Western Australia), Ponch
Hawkes, Grant Hobson, David Jolly, Richard
Lewer, Noel McKenna, Glenn Morgan, David
Ray, Gareth Sansom and Tony Schwensen.
The ultimate winners were Perth-based
artists Tarryn Gill and Pilar Marta Dupont
for their video artwork Gymnasium, 2010.
Until November 7, The Ian Potter Museum of Art
(03) 8344 5148, art-museum .unimelb.edu.au.
Stillsfrom the winning entry, a 3.52-minute video artwork
titled Gymnasium, 2010 by Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont.
82 INSITE SPRING 2010
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