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Artists bank on new prize

THE opening of the WA art fair ART0 was an ideal platform for BankWest to launch the $15,000 Inaugural BankWest Contemporary Art Prize for established and emerging WA artists.

BankWest managing director Terry Budge announced the winning piece would automatically become part of the revamped BankWest art collection.

“This annual competition will create a collection of prize winning art that will grow into a powerful testimony to the talent of our young artists,” Mr Budge said.

Late last year, BankWest decided to revitalise their art collection which had remained dormant for more than 10 years.

“A lot of the paintings in the collection had never been seen, they hang in the corridors of the BankWest tower or in the eastern states, a lot were a bit dated and needed change,” BankWest head of group public affairs Ray Jordan said.

A decision was made to focus on contemporary Western Australian art and as a result a number of works by high-profile Australian artists were sold, including works by Lloyd Rees and Charles Blackman.

The proceeds from these sales have been used to fund the revitalising of the BankWest collection.

BankWest has appointed Perth Gallery’s managing director Norah Ohrt as curator to revitalise and refocus the collection.

“It’s an ongoing process to re-establish the collection, and it will take around three years to get the collection to the level we want,” Mr Jordan said.

“The winner of the prize will be announced in November at an exhibition of the entries at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. A special second prize of $2,000 in art supplies will be given to the artist whose work is judged as the “people’s choice”.

“When we get the collection to a level where it stands up we will take it out into the community and show it.”

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