By Jack Fryer

    Further proving itself as one of the most exciting areas in Melbourne, the Footscray Art Prize returns to the western suburbs in 2017. Now in its second year, the Footscray Art Prize features contemporary works by local artists as well as from all over Australia.

    More than 140 shortlisted pieces will be on display at various locations around Footscray from 25 May until 24 June. This year, over 800 works were submitted for consideration. The prize is a joint event, organised by Maribrynong City Council, Victoria University, Footscray Community Art Centre, and the Rotary Club of Footscray.

    Mayor of Maribyrnong City Council, Councillor Catherine Cumming, said the event is a celebration of the artistic vibrancy of the inner western suburbs. “Footscray is a thriving creative hub, and this is reflected in the large number of entries we have received for the Footscray Art Prize.”

    “Being able to display the work of talented artists from across Australia here in Footscray will further cement our reputation as a centre of arts and culture”, said
 the Mayor.

    The prize is divided into four categories: the Main
Prize open to all artists in Australia, a Tertiary Prize for university students, Young Artist category for entrants aged 13-17 and 12 and under respectively, and a Street Art category. The winners will be announced on May 25, with the best artist in the Main Prize category taking home $10,000 in prize money. Altogether, there is $17,500 up for grabs this year.

    The shortlisted works for the Main Prize will be on display at the Footscray Community Arts Centre. Jade Lillie, Arts Centre Director and CEO, said she was looking forward 
to the event, particularly to seeing the contributions of local artists. “We have long known that Footscray is a hub of creativity, with an arts scene that reflects local, national and international narratives, so it 
is wonderful to see such a strong response to the Footscray Arts Prize.”

    VU at MetroWest will host the Tertiary and Young Artist entrants, of which there are more than 80 in 2017. Aptly, the Street Art works can be found on the streets, scattered around central Footscray, with exact locations available online for anyone worried about getting lost.

    This year features a strong contingent of artists 
from the western suburbs, across every category. Entrants include Footscray-based artist Fleur Brett, whose piece Tribal #1 (The Fan Club) is designed
 as a tribute to early AFL match-day banners (its red, white and blue elements calling to mind for the author everyone’s favourite Western Bulldogs).

    Others include sculpturist Michael Bullock, a university student from West Footscray, and Yarraville photographer Eko Hermawan, who is also entered in the tertiary category.

    Gallery director and prize judge Jason Smith said
 this year’s panel were thoroughly impressed with
 the submissions they received. “The sheer volume, diversity and exceptional merit of artists’ submissions made the shortlisting process a challenging one.”

    “We were really struck by the artists’ images of, and connections to, community and their locality.”

    The Footscray Art Prize will run from 25 May until 24 June.



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