28/11/2006 - 21:00

Cossack spirit on show

28/11/2006 - 21:00

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Every year, in the historic settlement of Cossack, about 1,600 kilometres from Perth, a major art exhibition draws national and international attention to Western Australia’s remote north-west.

Cossack spirit on show

Every year, in the historic settlement of Cossack, about 1,600 kilometres from Perth, a major art exhibition draws national and international attention to Western Australia’s remote north-west.

The Cossack Art Award is the most isolated acquisitive art exhibition in the world and Australia’s richest regional art award, with a prize pool of $65,000.

Principal partner Pilbara Iron and the Shire of Roebourne received this year’s long-term partnership award for their collaboration over the exhibition, which during the past 14 years has grown from a display of 20 paintings to an internationally renowned event showing more than 350 works.

Pilbara Iron’s superintendent community programs, Penny Carr, said the incentives for the company’s involvement in the project were twofold. 

“It’s all about economic diversity and cultural expression. In terms of economic diversity, you want the local people to be engaged in something not involving mining, for sustainability,” she said. 

“It was just about supporting the local community – helping to foster local cultural expression in the area.”

Shire of Roebourne marketing manager Nan Rickards said the majority of visitors to the exhibition were tourists, with international tourists planning their visits to the Pilbara region to coincide with the Cossack award.

“During the three weeks that we’re open for public viewing, we would put between 6,000 and 8,000 people through,” she said.

Ms Rickards said the partnership with Pilbara Iron had provided the financial backing to stage a logistically challenging exhibition, and had helped to raise the award’s profile.

Open to established and emerging artists from across Australia, the exhibition has featured works by some of the nation’s best-known artists, including Ken Done, Pro Hart and Robert Juniper.

The Shire of Roebourne manages the logistics of the exhibition, while Pilbara Iron contributes funding for the prize pool and running costs, as well as in-kind support such as airfares, accommodation and tours of the region for judges, and assistance with marketing and promotional activity.

Several staff members from Pilbara Iron enter their art in the competition, while others work with the shire on the ground.

“For the area, it’s a very significant and relevant partnership that produces some really great outcomes,” Ms Carr told WA Business News.

Ms Carr said the Cossack award was part of Pilbara Iron’s wider program of support for the community.

“Our focus is across the board, though arts is a very important part of the community. You have to make sure there is a balance in what you’re doing.”

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